TIMOTHY Kambilima narrates how he received the just dues for bad behaviour at school and urges observance of the virtues of integrity and honesty in all situations.
IN life we must always learn to tell the truth, no matter what situation we may find ourselves in.
It was on a Monday morning, 26 years ago, in the month of June in 1990, to be precise, while I was in grade 10 at Chililabombwe Secondary School when my teacher, who has since retired, gave our class home work in one of the subjects – Agricultural Science. Due to my playfulness, I didn’t do the homework.
When I went to school the following day, the teacher asked the monitor to collect the books for marking and my book wasn’t among those submitted. My classmates like Joseph Mubanga, Derrick Susa and Marion Makesa, who later became our deputy head girl in 1992, all submitted their books.
The teacher asked me to explain why I did not write the home work. I lied that I was not feeling well, but my effort to fob off the teacher must have been a poor one, for the learned man refused to buy my story. Instead, he ordered me to go for punishment after I had refused to be caned.
By the way, to those who may not be aware, corporal punishment was very much legal in Zambian schools those days.
We were wired then by our teachers for misconduct, unlike nowadays, where beating a pupil is an offence and one can go to jail for doing that. They call it human rights!
That aside, the teacher then ordered me to dig a rubbish pit, but I refused due to my stubbornness.
It wasn’t after he threatened to take the matter to higher authorities – the deputy head teacher – a strict disciplinarian, that I succumbed to the teacher’s request.
Completion of the punishment was the condition for my return to the classroom, and the teacher had emphasised his terms to me as clear as crystal.
Meanwhile, the deputy head teacher had been passing through the classes to check on who had missed classes from Monday to Friday, and he discovered that I was one of the culprits who had been away for two days; he demanded to know why.
I explained to him what had happened and, as if to rub salt into an open wound, he said, “It was your fault, and I can also punish you for that.”
He went on to say that since the class had been given homework, anyone who didn’t do it, including me, was showing signs of arrogance.
But I stuck to my lie and said, “Sir, don’t be annoyed with me, it was just that I was sick, please forgive me.” I thought with this apology, the matter was closed. Big mistake!
The deputy head teacher insisted the punishment meted out by my class teacher wasn’t enough, that I had to be sent back home to call my parents.
I came back with my mother and when we entered his office, the deputy head teacher told my mother all sorts of things bad pupils did at school.
He informed my mum that my behaviour epitomised the vices of bad pupils, adding that I was not only the worst noise maker, but I always absented myself from class. He told her lots of bad things about me, and I was not given a chance to defend myself. This was grossly unfair, I thought, because not everything the man said about me was true. I was very disappointed, dumfounded and shocked.
I was embarrassed, I tell you, and more so because my mother was very disappointed with me. After the ‘lecture’, the deputy head ordered me to stay away from school for three days as part of further punishment!
When we went back home, my father was briefed by mum about our encounter with the deputy head teacher, as I remained quiet.
I thought mum would at least sympathise with me after all the tongue-lashing by the deputy head teacher.
To the contrary, she continued to castigate me, saying I was not serious with school and was very playful.
“We shall see who will pay for your school fees next term,” she threatened sternly.
My dad, who died on June 15, 1991, meanwhile said nothing as a sign that he was not happy with me, either. After three days, I went and apologised to my parents and promised not to repeat my mistake.
Thank God, they accepted my apology and I started going to school again, assuring them I would never miss class assignments again until the time I completed grade 12 with Elizabeth Phiri, Moses Kaseba and Geoffrey Mulenga in 1992.
From this incident, I learnt my lesson well and I don’t want others to make similar mistakes.
It certainly isn’t good to be rude to your teachers at school because you won’t gain anything, but a bad name and punishment.
Pupils should ensure that home work is done at all times, because it is the pupils who lose if they don’t do it, and not their teachers.
More importantly, pupils should own up and tell the truth at all times instead of lying to escape punishment. We should always be truthful in our dealings.