26-year-old Primary School Teacher Stefon Dass at work on furniture for his students
By Meshach Atkinson
“Teaching was never my dream job but look at me now. Who can tell me not to teach? I turn a carpenter, a painter, a handyman, a judge, a doctor and so much more. In this one noble profession. It’s really true when they say, if you become a teacher, you have every other profession in you.” St Anthony Primary School teacher Stefon Dass told BIG Smith News Watch.
Dass is a 26-year teacher at the St Anthony Primary school in Bartica Region 7 and has been going way beyond the call of duty to ensure that his students are properly accommodated and comfortable as he is of the view, comfort during class enhances learning.
‘Sir’ Dass as he is fondly called has been building furniture for his class and the school whenever he has downtime during the lunch break or after and before classes are called.
In a telephone interview with BIG Smith News Watch, ‘Sir’ Dass explained that too many times as teachers, they wait for help from the officials when in fact… one’s initiative can be put to use to make a system or process work.
Earlier this month, Dass with some materials he had at home coupled with other materials from the school, ‘Sir’ Dass transformed a classroom at the St. Anthony Primary School from being one which saw children moved from sitting in a cramped classroom to now spaciously being seated.
“I was not going to wait for the ministry to send furniture for my children so I refurbish and build what more was needed. I did what I could to ensure they were comfortable in their own seat and space.” Dass told BIG Smith News Watch.
‘Sir’ Dass is of the belief that diversity encompasses more than just race and ethnicity. He explained that it can also include students of various religions and socioeconomic statuses.
He told this publication that two weeks ago one of his Muslim students approached him about his desire to pray during his lunch break. The student made known he would have to go home to do so. Mr. Dass explained that he was astonished by the intensity with which his student explained why he needed to pray.
“So, I asked him if it would not be more convenient for him if I made a clean and quiet area for him to pray in school and he smiled, He smiled and said, Yes, sir. I immediately informed my supervisors of my plans to use our staffroom for this venture, they had no objections to my initiative, so I grabbed a clean mat, spread it out, and my student was able to pray. That was not the most amazing part; the next day, he had another student, and the day after that, another student.”
Dass explained that he had since faced criticism since the school was founded by Christians. He however explained that the whole incident has so far showed him that even more can be done to accommodate students of various religions. He is of the hope that others can follow his example and make their classroom inclusive to all.
The young teacher made known that he is happy that he can be used as a beacon of change. He noted however that the country as a whole is far from being diverse as long as we don’t accommodate others.