Teachers turn to Bakers: A Profitable Skill Discovered During the Covid-19 lockdown

By Ruth Atim.

Tino Patience took on baking as a source of income to make ends meet during the tough COVID-19 times.

Tino, who is not only a baker but also a kindergarten teacher acknowledges that the lock down took a toll on her and she decided to make something good out of it.

“I was very bored, so I made YouTube my friend, started trying out cooking different pastries, of which baking was part of them that turned into an addiction, hobby and now my source of income” says Patience Tino, a Nursery school teacher who came out of the COVID-19 lockdown a baker.

Many of us, particularly teachers in Uganda, faced a challenge as a result of the pandemic. In Uganda, schools closed down for more than 77 weeks, the world’s longest lockdown in a bid to combat the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus among school-aged children. This meant that parents would stop paying school fees and most schools were forced to either eliminate or half teacher salaries.

Tino Patience in action Decorating a Cake. She does her baking from Home.

According to the World Data Atlas, about 40% of Uganda’s elementary schools and 60% of its secondary schools are private institutions run by people, religious organizations, charities, and corporations with no assistance from the government. School fees, which cover all operating costs, including instructors’ wages, which range from $100 to $250 (350,000 to 880,000 Ugandan shillings) each month, are their main source of income. 

The government continued to pay state school teachers’ salaries, but it failed to follow through on its promise to support private school teachers.

Patience Tino, a teacher at Kidzville preschool and daycare center a private school located in the Heart of Kampala shares her experience on how baking during the lockdown “saved the day” for her family since she wasn’t earning from her teaching Job at that time.

My baking journey started jokingly. The lockdown in Uganda was so tense with schools closed and movements restricted, it was so difficult for me given the fact that I am a very active person always moving up and about. I would watch Television all day, but there was this one day that I landed on a YouTube baking video, I got hooked, started trying out simple recipes and mastered the art of baking just like that. I also love the fact that much as COVID-19 disrupted many aspects of life, atleast I got to learn something that is now supporting my Family, Tino narrates to our reporter.

Patience’s First Cake. It was a Birthday Cake for her Friend’s Son.

“Through my baking business, I have been able to pay bills, buy food, cloth my family

And cater for our day to day needs in one way or the other” she adds.

When asked how she has managed to market her baking business which she named “Tino Bites”, Tino says her close friend and family were her first customers. They would take and share pictures of the cakes she would bake. “At first, the business was an experiment because of the COVID-19 lockdown, and I discovered that my first customers turned out to be my largest supporters and marketers. They would advertise my items, and as a result, I began to receive business by word-of-mouth.” Says Tino.

When asked how she balances the two since schools have reopened, Tino says balancing is quite tricky so she mainly bakes on weekends and also if an order comes in mid-week, she programs herself and gets it done without disappointing her clients. “So, I didn’t quit teaching, I do both accordingly. And once one has developed passion in something, they should go for it, do it wholeheartedly, give it their all, focus, persist and be patient” Tino Concludes.

This is also a lesson that something good can come out of a tough situation, which is truly quite remarkable.

Tino Patience’s Current Cake. She has mastered that Art over time.

Meanwhile Aber Prisca, (not real names) a secondary school teacher from one of the secondary schools in Northern Uganda has vowed not to step foot in class as a teacher after her new found baking passion that she discovered during the lockdown has started to pay off. 

“I will never go back to teaching,” says Prisca, a former teacher, who now runs a Bakery shop in Gulu City.  “My bakery business needs 100% of my time, and I won’t trade it for anything. Also, COVID-19 has taught us teachers a big lesson. “We’re supposed to create other ways of survival.” Prisca adds.

“On my baking days, I get up early in the morning, put my cake mixer and oven on. I get close to six to eight orders every day and I feel complete knowing my job for the day is to make something that people will enjoy.” Say Prisca with a beaming smile on her face. 

Just like Prisca, many teachers in Uganda have found new careers, many of which were discovered during the lockdown because people had a lot of time on their hands. 

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Ruth Atim and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union

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