Absai Kashululu was in his early twenties when he started his career as a trainer. The 31-year-old Kashululu started his career of imparting knowledge to communities by teaching computer literacy and office administration.
He soon moved up the ranks and started teaching more courses when his employer promoted him. His career involved a lot of traveling and this meant meeting new people all the time.
He soon realised thought that meeting new people also had a negative side to it and he saw his discipline put to the test – a test that would have compromised his work ethic, had he given in to the seduction of female participants, who in the beginning made constant sexual advances.
“At the beginning girls would come to class in short skirts and wouldn’t sit anywhere, but in the front rows. Some of them would even sit with open legs,” says Kashululu, as he shared his experience as a young trainer, faced with constant sexual advances from female course participants.
He said it was not unusual for female participants to make remarks, such as: “Sir, you are handsome,” to which he would timidly respond with a “thank you” in the middle of a lesson.
Some girls, he says, developed a negative attitude towards fellow participants in the hope of winning Kashululu’s heart.
“They would ask irrelevant questions and act as if they don’t understand,” the bubbly young man says. At some point things almost spiraled out of control, as some female participants would even have the audacity to ask: “Sir, are you married? Do you have a girlfriend and how many children do you have?”
He added that some women would go to the extreme of getting his mobile number just to send a text messages, expressing their lust for him.
“If I don’t respond they would even call. It’s really tough. Some of them would even bring sweets just to make sure they are on my side,” Kashululu recalled, further saying he was much younger then and did not always know how to deal with the constant and overwhelming sexual advances of the young seducers.
“As a young man you get attracted to beautiful women,” he saying: “In the beginning I used to feel important and tempted to date some of the girls.”
“There is only one document that protected me and that is our code of conduct,” he says, explaining that the organisation he works for has a code of conduct that prohibits a trainer and his participants from being romantically involved.
The trainer could lose his job, he explained.
Kashululu says he also soon took charge of his class and trainees by being frank, firm and not tolerating any misbehaviour or conduct that has potential to derail him from his task.
“I took charge by telling them I’m a young man and I need to help them and myself by imparting skills. Therefore, I do not appreciate short skirts. ‘When you come to my class I want you to dress decently’,” Kashululu would tell his trainees.
“Sometimes I would do this when I’m doing the ground rules,” he says. He noted that it was important for him to be frank about how their seductive behaviour affects men. “I had to tell them how it affects me. If I see your naked legs I will lose focus,” he says.
Kashululu said an important lesson he derived from his experience is to remain focused and firm.
“Integrity plays a major role in this, because you will be tempted,” he says. He adds that the moment a teacher, lecturer or trainer is involved in a romantic relationship with their students it messes up the class situation.
“Just imagine if a teacher is dating a learner. What will happen to that class?” he asked, adding that when such things happen the classroom situation can spiral out of control.
“We should respect our professions and our code of conducts,” he says, stressing that for teachers, trainers and facilitators to have sexual relationships with their learners or students has emotional consequences.
“We must consider that these people are in relationships and we are here to transfer knowledge,” he says.
Clinical psychologist, Dr Shaun Whittaker says relationships between educators and students do happen, unfortunately, but, we should be careful not to distort the message by blaming the young people for making sexual advances to their educators, he says.
The teacher, lecturer or trainer is in a position of authority. Therefore, it is to be expected that these young people in his or her class look up to them with admiration.
“The adult (teacher or facilitator) should be firm about the boundaries,” Whittaker believes. He observed that even a junior teacher is in a position of authority, merely by being in that position as a teacher.
Whittaker concurs that there are emotional consequences where teachers and learners are romantically involved. “The sense of trust is broken as the person in authority abused their position,” Whittaker says.
There are various reasons why those in authority sometimes fall prey to their students’ or participants’ seductive ways.
“Sometimes it’s a lack of control, being adventurous, or sometimes the person is just being plain irresponsible,” Whittaker further explained.