25 years later, and Sir Vijay Mohabeer shows no sign of slowing down

Sir Vijay Mohabeer

By Lakhram Bhagirat

“I love this job although it is not what I wanted to do at first, I have grown to love it. I cannot see myself doing anything else other than teaching. I have been here for 25 years now and I have a lot more to give. This is my life, educating our children,” Sir Vijay Mohabeer said.

Visvamintra Mohabeer, or Sir Vijay as he has been known as for the past 25 years, joined the teaching profession on February 14, 1995. Ever since, he has been on staff at the Meten-Meer-Zorg Primary School on the West Coast Demerara (WCD).

To understand his drive to be the best in the profession, one would have to go way back into childhood days of growing up in the East Bank Essequibo village of Zeelugt. He hails from a large family and is the 4th of 9 children for his parents.

He explained that his childhood was filled with memories of going into the backdams to catch fishes and cut firewood so that his mother, who was a housewife, could prepare their meals.

“I grew up with four brothers and four sisters and back in those days things were very rough for us. My mother was a housewife and my father did carpenter work and we had very little growing up but we had some good memories. If you know about the firesides, back then our mother would cook on the fireside so we would go into the backdam and cut wood for her to cook.

We used to enjoy doing that and, on the weekends, we would go and catch fish and have fun as young children. It is among the best memories I have as a child and I cherish them,” he recounted.

He received his primary education at the Zeelugt Primary School and after he wrote the Common Entrance Examination, he secured a place at Zeeburg Secondary School. After he completed secondary school, Mohabeer then went on to work with the Demerara Distillers Limited for two years after and ended up quitting his job because of the shift system and the distance he had to commute.

All this while, he had not considered teaching but one day he just happened on the thought and made an application. He was hired and sent to the Meten-Meer-Zorg Primary School and thus commenced his teaching career.

Over the years in the system, he has sought to improve his qualifications in order to better serve the children under his charge. He attended the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) where he was formally trained as a teacher. Upon attaining his teaching certification, he then went on to the University of Guyana where he read for his Bachelor’s Degree in Education.

“I believe in getting qualified. I furthered my qualifications because I know how I wanted to position myself. Although I never had a certain career path set, I did not think about teaching but let me tell you that this is something I cannot see myself not doing anymore. I want to be able to say that I helped all my students to become the better versions of themselves and realise their potentials,” Sir Vijay said.

Sir Vijay with his students back in the day

He entered his first classroom on February 14, 1995, and since then never took one sick day or any other form of leave. Even, during his vacation time, he would be working with his students.

At Meten-Meer-Zorg Primary, he has taught the Grade Six class for over a decade, where he led the school to improved percentages at the National Grade Six Examinations (NGSA). The school has always recorded passes in the 90-percentage bracket for those exams.

He was promoted to the post of Principal about 2 years ago and ever since has decreased his time in the classroom in exchange for the administrative aspect of the school. However, he still provides the requisite guidance to all his students and even teachers and keeps the channel of communication open at all times.

He allows his students to be independent thinkers so that when they go out into the world they can observe, think and form informed opinions. He not only mentors in the area of academics but allows them to become exposed to the arts, culture and sports since he believes a balance is needed.

In the 25 years that he has been in the system, he has observed the teaching profession being overhauled as well as had to adapt to the ever-changing world. That meant he had to embrace technology and newer styles of teaching. At times, he even became a student while navigating his way around technology.

However, he has also seen students become more distracted with very little intervention from parents.
“Over the years in this job here I have seen the children performance drop. Technology is one of the reasons for the low performances. We see the children are becoming more and more distracted with tablets and phones and so on. We know it can also help in the learning process but the children are using it to do the opposite.

“Back then we used to have better learning because the children were more focused. They used to do their homework and then come in class to discuss and so. Now we have some children never doing their homework and assignments and we are not getting the cooperation from some parents and so,” the veteran teacher said.

Mohabeer intends to leave behind a legacy where he can be among the country’s dedicated educators and hopes to offer his service and expertise even after he retires. The veteran advised the younger teachers to ensure they focus on developing themselves so that they can be in the position to offer the best to their charges.