No Students in Class

I’m trying to be the person I was too lazy to be yesterday.

Shifted and subsequently broken. That was the state my heart was in when the airbus kissed the skies away from Kenyan airspace and dauntingly tilted towards Abu Dhabi.

I told myself that I wanted to go anywhere. Anywhere but home. I wanted to be away. To rethink, re-strategize and reboot. I was unsure of many things but one; I needed to go back to school. I needed my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Now I have to tell you a story.

Little Red Riding Hood

Once upon a time, the Nursing Council of Kenya ( NCK) decided to have a conflicting educational system for nurses in the country. NCK, which is the Regulatory body for Nurses in Kenya, felt that it was the most beautiful thing to train nurses as Certificate holders, Diploma holders and then Degree holders.

To garnish the uninspiring system, NCK trained diploma Registered Nurses for an entire 3.5 years, taught them the same thing they taught degree holders for 4 years in University, and then refused to have a scope of practice.

The employers, government and otherwise, then went to the job market in search for nurses. They found degree holders but felt they couldn’t pay them for their high and mighty papers. So they shopped for diploma and certificate holders who could equally do what the degree nurses would do.

After all, the market was flooded with nurses. And any nurse is a nurse as long as they do what nurses should do. I do not know what that means leave me alone. NCK did not learn even after multiple attempts from professional bodies and unions to try cushion the future of the Nursing profession in Kenya.

“Let us train them all,” NCK reasoned. ” It has always been like that,” they chorused like well-fed baby yodas. “The employer can decide whether to employ the certificate holder or the degree holder,” they justified.

The brains behind degree nursing had had a dream. A dream where the value of the profession extended beyond Kenyan borders to global standards. A dream that students in high school would someday want to become nurses by enrolling for degree courses. That nursing would regain her lost glory and stop being viewed as a course of last resort.

A dream that nursing in Kenya wouldn’t be viewed as a subordinate branch of medicine but an equal player. That dream was in part transitioning the education system of the nurse. But NCK, just like the big bad wolf never changed.

Just like the big bad wolf, in the 20th Century, NCK won’t scrap off Certificate nursing training whose requirement is a D (or something similar) in KCSE and won’t create opportunities for employers to prefer nurses with advanced education. Baby Yoda belched with satisfaction at the confusion he created.

Then along strutted Little Red Riding Hood. She failed to understand the malignant injustice in the Nursing education system in Kenya. She especially felt that higher education should reflect in a wider scope of practice and a more defined scheme of service.

Higher education, she surmised, brought massive shifts in the world of possibilities. It was exhilarating. She saw a future whose direction she’d love to be part of. This borderline orgasmic determination scared some and inspired hope in others.

The science and art of caring for the sick was an empty clanging cymbal if it couldn’t work for the benefit of not only patients, but the nurses themselves. Laws that break the very backs of the taunted frontline workers are antithesis of what nursing embodies.

Little Red Riding Hood got an opportunity to test her theory. She enrolled for her BsN by God’s grace somewhere in the United Kingdom. This was in the year of our Lord 2020. Covid-19 was the king and social distancing the new gig. She was me. I was her. The End.

To the present…

I have been to numerous classes thanks to my interesting educational journey. What I have never considered is online learning. That is what Covid-19 has shoved down my throat. Perhaps it should be easy because I’m a qualified and registered nurse already but hand to Jesus and the choir of heaven, it is not.

It is even more convoluted when you’re as tech-ignorant as I am. I pride myself in having a fairly stable memory. I should remember my Computer classes not so many moons ago. However, the outlines are clear but they fade at the edges leaving blurs and smudges. Everything gets dark after that.

I need an IT boyfriend . It is urgent. Do you have a tech-savvy boyfriend? I need him. Sharing should be caring or something like that. This is where girl power comes in Mother Teresa. Loan me your geek boyfriend for the period I’m in school. Ha ha. I got you.

Two days ago I submitted my assignment and instead of posting it in the board where my lecturers can see it, I posted it in the Frequently Asked Questions’ section. It is only the patience of the lecturers holding me together. Like raggedy pieces of duct tape and a shoestring, they daintly keep me in place.

Blessings is my virtual learning classmate and she keeps asking where the assignment section is located. Ollie wants to formulate and answer his own questions. A certain Olayinka won’t fix his microphone during live class sessions.

The live sessions have become my favourite. They are gorgeous. See, we have two lead lecturers. M and Dr. P. For the entire semester of Summer 2020, if they say jump I must ask how high.

The time is 1200hrs BST ( 1400hrs EAT). M introduces the lesson and everyone has their mic on. She has a hard time getting the class to order. Everyone wants to say “hi everyone .” Daniel, who has joined us three minutes after the start of live recording also wants to chant ,”hi everyone.”

M and Dr.P briefly outline the learning objectives then M takes the lead. M is in Surrey and Dr.P is in London.I don’t know whether they know but their students are there just not there.

Solomon’s hand has been up for the last several minutes and M keeps asking him if he has a question but he won’t talk. He will not put his hand down either. We have to learn to live with him.

M is saying something about Harvard referencing style. She talks about sending us a link to learn how to cite them right. Charles has his microphone on. He is murmuring to some femeo that ,”aha, I can see them now.” Okay Charles we would like to see you too please turn the camera on.

M : Charles could you please turn your microphone off? I will allow time for Q and A at the end of the session.

Charles: ( To femeo) ahaa, now it looks good.

M: I’m sorry class let me mute all microphones.

I have forgotten what she was saying. Did she say the author’s name and the year of publication must be within brackets or was it just the year? I hope to catch up.

M goes on. She asks Dr.P if the screen she is sharing is legible. Dr.P rightly tells her that it is not and we would all benefit if the text was enlarged. Here comes graduated trouble.

M is as naive with technology as I am. Dr.P’s silence is too loud. Apart from Emmanuel who saves the day, we are technologically as tasty as plagiarism. Emmanuel reminds me of a classmate I had in my renal nursing program, Bundi.

Bundi was the genius of technology. He helped set up Power Point presentations, linked them to wondrous YouTube videos and still managed to screen in and screen out presentations. Emmanuel is my new Bundi.

Some child is crying in the background and I can’t tell whose baby it is. Neither can M. M just wants the microphone off. That happens. Almost immediately, the cursor on my screen moves and there is someone doodling on the screen. They are drawing tiny blue circles on the screen and M is ten milliseconds away from holding her forehead in exasperation. She doesn’t.

M : Please class note that we all can see things happening on the screen. Please do not touch your screen when on live session. Please try to not play with your mouse pads.

Ha ha M. I miss real classrooms. Where I would sit at the back and pass wiseass notes to my classmates as the lecturer talked. Whoever is drawing is officially my desk mate.

Eventually we get it and the lesson is halfway over. We pause for a quick Q and A. A girl is asking a question about some activities in Unit 7. People of God, Unit seven is not until three weeks from today. Pray tell me how did we get here?

Though she gets her answer, Dr.P is a quintessential Brit who tells her without telling her to calm her heels down. Oh you should have seen the smirk on P’s face. It froze the sun.

I have been dying to ask about word count. I am horrible at word counts. I always get it wrong. Dr.P is guiding me but all I hear is stuccato because someone’s cup is filling with water (or alcohol) somewhere. Children of Papa God, how hard is it to turn your microphone off though?

I have to ask Dr.P to say it again. This time, I am the one that interrupts it. There is a flying beetle that’s found it’s way into my living room. I left the window half open to let in some light. The early summer beetles have been dying to have a cuppa coffee with me.

A cuppa when in the middle of a lesson sounded like a beautiful idea so it buzzed its way into my living room. Wings tiny as a baby’s finger, he fluttered on in front of my face and I used my hand to swat him away.

That movement somehow touched my mouse-pad and the camera came on. P had to pause and watch me fight my monsters with the microphone off. What a spectacle!

Veronica wants to ask questions and “seek clarification ” on everything. She also wants to “clarify” what M and Dr.P have already said. My brain has taken a walk and I want to follow it. There is something about a teacher’s voice that just takes the pain and grind of life away.

A teacher’s voice is the blood running through the vessels of peace, love and harmony. The intonation of the teacher’s voice; as s/he explains a concept is a melodious tune to our hearts. A teacher’s voice cannot be ignored. It is also a cajoling lullaby. So I doze off somewhere along the lesson.

I’m startled when my earphones fall off and for some reason I am thinking about Samuel L. Jackson. I think he would be a badass teacher.This is why they record these lessons. Samuel L. Jackson would record them too.

We must access them if we are to pass the module. By the time we chant ” bye everyone,” Ollie still isn’t convinced that his answers are not related to the questions asked in the assignment.

Charles and his femeo left the session at the 47th minute and Solomon’s hand is still up. He says nothing. Seen. Not heard. Does his voice sound like Samuel L.Jackson’s? Is his voice the love song of the nightingale and the lark who we can’t hear anymore?

Why is his hand up? I wish he could type his thoughts in the chatroom. He doesn’t. Like a sleuth he wanders in our online presence. He sees us but we can’t see him. His virtual hand however, remains up. I must go back to that recording.

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