Arnault Bembo is a Probationer teacher of a P5 class at St Patrick’s RC Primary school in Lochgelly.
One of the main reasons I decided on teaching as a career is the impact that I can have on the future generation. I believe that education is our passport to the future and that tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. I have found that through my life education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world for good.
I was inspired to join the profession by one of my primary school teachers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He encouraged me to join the Red Cross and we used to walk very long distances to attend the training days. One day, after training was over, the Red Cross gave us money for transport back to school. My teacher collected the money and asked us if we could walk back because he could really use that money to feed his family. My peers and I agreed that our teacher could have this money and we proceeded to walk back.
This might sound unusual and impossible in western culture, but as pupils in the DRC we understood the struggle of our teacher. The political climate in Kinshasa at the time was such that some teachers did not get paid. He woke up everyday and came to class to teach us and he was kind to us but he was not earning enough to feed his family. I appreciated and respected his sacrifice and that inspired me to be in a position where I could do something positive and inspire others to become the best version of themselves.
Studying for the teacher qualification was interesting and exciting because I knew if I gave it my all I would be able to have a class of my own. I felt like I was representing not just myself and my family but I was representing a whole community, a whole country by studying to be a teacher in a country like Scotland.
When I stepped in front of the class for the first time, I felt humbled and at the same time empowered to be in that position with all the young minds looking forward to learning something new, reinforcing previous knowledge or just having someone there to listen to their story and give them the attention they deserve. It was nerve-wracking but exciting.
I have a pupil from a BAME background in my class and the first time he saw me his eyes lit up; he said I looked like his brother. That was a very important moment for me because I didn’t have a teacher from a BAME background. I am happy that my pupil will see that he could also be a teacher if he wants to follow that path. I was the only black person in my teaching course and at times it could feel lonely – even though I had friends. It can also feel lonely being the only male teacher in a primary school. For all these reasons, I would like to see more people from BAME backgrounds and men encouraged into the profession.
My advice for people considering entering the profession is to be brave, consistent and ambitious. And don’t give up. Being a teacher is a lifestyle, a privilege and a rewarding career. Be ready to make each child valued for who they are.