Oct 16, 2011 News
Pull Quote: “I really love them (children) you know, and even up to today, I am at the Islamic School, and I keep talking to them, advising them. I wouldn’t be in it (teaching) if I didn’t love them. In this profession, you have to have love for the children. We cannot allow them to be 14 and live a life of a 30-year-old,”
By Leon Suseran
Today, many persons are in the teaching profession mainly because of the monetary rewards that
accompany it. In the old days, though, many joined because of the deep love they had for children and because being a teacher meant that one was looked up to and respected by persons in the community. There was that sense of pride which filled one up to the brim. And so it was for young Dhieranidranauth Somwaru, who willingly let go of his deep desire to become a pilot to enter the profession.
The young boy from Chesney, Albion, Corentyne, hailed from a poor family and was living with his mother and father at the time and it was his dream to go and fly in the U.S. Army as a pilot. He received acceptance from a flying school in Florida, but after much sober thought and reflection, decided that he could best make his parents proud by becoming a teacher. He remembered his Indian ancestral culture, too, which made it the custom that the last child would always try to remain with his or her parents.
His parents were very sad when he told them that he wanted to go to the Florida pilot school. He was very close to his parents, and shared a special bond with his mother.
On reflection, he did not regret his decision, since his parents always looked up to teachers. “Teaching had pride. It was status, and coming from a poor family, they wanted me to be a teacher. I couldn’t become a doctor, because we were too poor”, he reflected.
He began teaching and that began a “love affair” with the hundreds of students that he would touch throughout their lives, for decades. He left in 1972 and entered the Government Training College for training in Georgetown. While attending college, he met his wife, Khali Khan, while taking food for her mother who was in the Georgetown Hospital to undergo a heart operation. They were from the same village on the Corentyne and their parents were very close and so, he assisted with her care in the city and happened to be see this “country girl” with whom he fell deeply in love.
“I went to her home after her mother was discharged, and the attraction grew, because I would go everyday to visit the mother and I would see her and we developed a closeness”, he stated. They met in August and they got married later that year on December 23, 1973.
Even though she hailed from an Islamic background, they got married according to Vedic and Arya Samaj rites. They have since enjoyed 38 years of wedded bliss. The union bore 5 children: Urmila, Nirmala, headmistress of Corentyne Comprehensive High School (CCHS), Surendra, Ravindra, and Aartie, who is pursuing medicine.
He was also referred to by the famous name ‘Big Sam’ for his ‘big’ appearance and weight- lifting background. He bench pressed 355 lbs in the past, but stopped as he got older.
CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL
Born on 18 March, 1952 at Lot 12 Chesney, Albion Estate on the Corentyne, to Somwaru Dhaniram and Etwaria Dhaniram, young Dhieranidranauth enjoyed his childhood days walking, swimming in canals, going into the canfields to “steal” the cane and playing cricket until his father would come home from the estate factory.
“I never realized I was hungry until he came home and your belly started to burn, because you enjoyed life as a youngster,” he reminisced.
He attended Albion Primary School and began from Grade 3 in 1961. He remembered being absent from school very frequently, because he had a “very cruel teacher”. The teacher, he said, used to administer corporal punishment (CP) often to children, which he received on a couple of occasions, because he was reported by one of the class monitors for talking in the class.
“Boy, it was licks from my head to my toe. And I was a little boy and my mother used to bathe me, and she saw these brands from my neck,” he noted. His father reported the matter to the headmaster and the teacher never hit him again.
As a teacher, he phased out the use of corporal punishment in his teaching career. “Gradually as I got trained and so on, you realize you are terrifying children. Not that I am totally against CP. It has its uses, but definitely not for a teacher to be cruel….”
He then attended Belvedere Government Secondary (today Lower Corentyne Secondary) from 1964-1969. He wrote the College of Preceptors (CP) exams in 1966 and attained 6 subjects. He then wrote the GCE Exams and attained 6 subjects with a Distinction (A- Grade) in English Language. In 1971, he wrote the A- Levels and attained English Literature, English Language and Geography.
CRICKET AND UMPIRING
Dhieranidranauth loves cricket. In 1973, he was called for Guyana trials and was recommended for the first match with Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, Leonard Mc Crae, Basil Butcher, Roy Fredericks, and others. He went for the first day and never returned because he felt he could not have replaced those stalwarts. He continued to play First Division cricket, but “it was not in my heart to become a professional cricketer”. He played with the “top chaps” from Albion such as Sew Shivnaraine, and others. He took 51 wickets in one year as a bowler.
He said Mr Carl Moore (popular national manager and administrator) saw him playing cricket at the Chesney Cricket Club, and asked him to stop playing the game and umpire. “I loved it, because even as a little boy, I used to umpire cricket, because in the 60s and 70s you did not have anybody to umpire cricket matches,” he posited.
He became a fully- qualified umpire in 1994. In 1997, he did the Regional Under-19 and India and West Indies ‘A’ team series, and umpired first regional tournament in 1998 in St Vincent. “When I entered the plane, I cried and I cried because, coming from a poor home, I never expected to enter an aeroplane, much less leave Guyana. I cried, seriously… at the back of my mind, I was seeing my
parents, who really struggled with me to do what they could afford to do,” he recounted.
He umpired the match with the then world’s best umpire, Steve Bucknor. Somwaru was recommended by Bucknor for more matches and to date, has umpired more than 16 First Class matches and West Indies ‘A’ vs. Pakistan, WI ‘A’ vs. South Africa, as well as the Indians, English and Pakistanis.
“It was really great. I enjoyed it and it is a pity that last year I had to come off because of the illness. I’ve had a good time, doing what I did. I always expected to go into the ICC (International Cricket Council), but they have a policy now about putting in young people, which I totally agree with.”
Mr. Somwaru gained meaningful experience throughout his teaching career as he moved from school to school, teaching English, a subject which he loves. He was sent to the Latchmansingh School in Bush Lot in 1974, after which he went to Rose Hall Town Primary in 1977. He left there for Corentyne High where he spent 14 years, after which he was transferred to Bush Lot Secondary. He was then appointed as Deputy Headmaster at the Winifred Gaskin Memorial Secondary l at Manchester, Corentyne in 1994, and worked along with veteran educator, and now Head of CPCE Berbice, Mrs Norma Stuart.
He then joined the staff of the Lower Corentyne Secondary as Headmaster in 1996 where he “was unceremoniously kicked out”. The person acting as principal refused to hand over the school to him. “The man said, ‘Sam, you can have a seat, but I am leaving’. He locked up every drawer. So I sat there and said, What the heck am I doing here?’” He believed the move was political. He left, went home and visited the Teaching Service Commission, after which he met with Mr Kendall and a little later, he was appointed to another school of his own choice -Auchlyne Primary. He said he never expected political interference in 1996. “I felt offended”, he noted.
In 1998, he was transferred to Skeldon High and assumed Headship of the CCHS in 1999, where he retired in 2007. As a teacher, the movements from school to school helped him. “I had to fit in any environment. I did not mind where I was going. I was inwardly built to serve any and every situation”, he reflected.
A REVOLUTIONARY HEADMASTER
Mr Somwaru was not your average “toe-the-line teacher”. He “did not take crap from anybody whether you are Regional Education Officer or whatever”.
“We cannot be scared. We must learn to fight for our teachers’ rights! A lot of head teachers are too soft, scared of talking. I for one was not scared. We must not politicize our schools. Leave the head teachers to run their schools.”
He believes that there are many “incompetent and impotent” head teachers today. “Fear was a factor, many of them, in my opinion, were trying to be goodie- goodie—no good. A lot of them did not know the records and how to run a good school.
He was never scared to speak at the monthly Headteachers’ meetings, especially if it was for the benefit of his school, the students and his teachers. He mentioned the heads he looked up to including Brijanand Mahadeo, Mr Persaud, Mr Deen; “men from whom I have learnt”.
“Sadly, a lot of education officers now, listening to them speak…they may have the academics, but the practical administration is sadly lacking in them, you know?”
His career went uphill at CCSS as he practiced his managerial skills and no- nonsense approach to discipline and poor standards, something he is famously known for across the Corentyne area. He gave his teachers the leeway to use their own initiatives.
“I think a principal must be open to suggestions, because you’re not Mr. Know-it-All. You have to have an organizational structure.” He always tried his best to unite his staff which he opined would impact on education to the children.
“They all have ideas…from the youngest teacher. Stand firm with discipline. Without discipline you cannot have a school. I do not believe so much in beating them. I would send for the parents and have a discussion. The child has that right to speak.” “Late coming, misbehaviour, fighting, disrespect…no-no-no-no.”
A LOVE FOR CHILDREN
Dhieranidranauth related his special gift and passion for dealing with children and helping them when they needed help and guidance. He said that his office would be filled to capacity with children with whom he would converse while he ate his lunch.
“My door—any child will tell you—is always opened, even during the lunch time, I eat my roti and baigan and pumpkin—I love pumpkin—would be eating and my office is packed with children, telling me their problems or what they like or like to do. I am eating…and talking to them. I ask them at the assembly, ‘Do u have any problems?’ And you say openly here, you have that right to speak,” he noted. “If we don’t have this human touch in administration, something is wrong with us”.
“I think that we cannot be harsh on the children. You learn to listen to them because when teachers listen to them, they have a lot of problems you know? Check how many single parent homes there are. Do we know what a child is going through financially?” he noted.
He encountered many struggling students, many of whom today are educated and succeeding in their own fields. “If you want to be a teacher, and become a millionaire, it is not possible. You have to do something else, apart from teaching, to become rich. He related the joys of meeting past students of his who appreciate their teachers.”When children would remember you…you go somewhere, a child is a nurse and a child talks to you. You feel good, money cannot pay for that, you know?”
“I really love them you know, and even up to today, I am at the Islamic School, and I keep talking to them, advising them. I wouldn’t be in it (teaching) if I didn’t love them. In this profession, you have to have love for the children. We cannot allow them to be 14 and live a life of a 30-year-old,” he stressed.
“My life has been enriched by teaching.” he said thoughtfully.
Today, Mr Somwaru has retired but has been offering his service, teaching English Language and Literature at the Berbice Islamic School at Port Mourant. He is an avid reader of novels these days. He said that he has read over 10,000 novels and all the religious books during the past years, as well as the Philosophers, Plato and Socrates.
He experiences some strain on the right eye so he only reads the newspapers these days. He encourages his students to “buy the newspapers on a daily basis, one popular daily (the Kaieteur News) which he also named. He does a bit of gardening too.
Dhieranidranauth Somwaru has pitched in his lot through teaching, umpiring and being an efficient administrator. He is one of the oldest-serving teachers across the Ancient County. His love and devotion to do what he loved (teaching and umpiring) with a distinct passion has duly earned him a place as this week’s ‘Special Person’.
Jul 06, 2022Kaieteur News- Regal Legends extracted sweet revenge on New York Softball Cricket League (NYSCL) Legends to successfully defend their Independence Cup on Sunday at Baisley Park, Queens, New York. Set...
Kaieteur News– I hate, and I mean the word literally, the sociological vulgarity in this country that race baiting,... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]