The minister of education has made it clear that teaching and vocational training will be paramount in this year’s budget and this is because it has been observed that the profession has suffered immensely compared to others in the country. In this quest, will the present administration look into the roles played by female teachers as well as their inadequacy in the profession? Kuni Tyessi takes a look at it.
One of the challenges of contemporary society and the educational system is to address gender inequality in the educational social systems so that schools and teachers at all levels can have a key role to play in developing a gender-sensitive future generation. Gender stereotypes exist in all human societies and in all human endeavours.
Some scholars interchange the word gender for sex to create the erroneous impression that certain barriers to progress are a matter of nature, whereas they are manifestation of nurture socially constructed and therefore subject to change.
Others say gender stereotype is one type of subjective perception of what a man or woman should be or how people should behave. Most of these stereotypes often described men as intellectually competent, strong and brave, while women are homely, warm and expressive, incompetent and passive. They portray the male as strong, dominant person with leadership trait, one whose works should be outside the home in often prestigious occupations, while female is usually portrayed as being subordinate and confined to the home.
Nigerian women, generally, are yet to occupy their positions on the Nigerian educational set-up.the wide gap between the male and female has existed over the years and deliberate efforts have been made by the united nation to address it. These efforts include declaration of a decade for women, which culminated in the Beijing conference of 1995, Education For All, EFA, Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, etc.
These all criticize the unequal treatment between sexes and the stereotyped way of teaching in the educational system, teaching staff and standards, the elimination of stereotyped concepts of the role of women and men, the same opportunity for scholarships, the same access for continuing education, sports and physical education.
Like their counterparts in other parts of Africa, available statistics indicate that Nigerian women are yet to occupy their rightful places in various sectors of the Nigerian education industry. The level of female participation in Nigerian secondary school education is far lower than that at the primary education level. It appears that the higher the education ladder, the lower the level of female involvement.
According to TRCN statistical digest for 2008, there are 110,923 male teachers and 94, 365 female teachers in the secondary schools in all the 36 states of the federation including Abuja, the Federal capital territory. However, by 2009, the statistics indicate that there are 121,750 male teachers and 125, 801 female teachers which is a substantial improvement from the 2008 statistics.
Already, it has been established that culture and tradition seem to be the reason why Nigerian women are underrepresented in various sectors of the Nigerian labour force, which is just one of the surviving legacies of a traditional educational background that saw housekeeping as the exclusive career of women.
However, current data are subtle proofs that Nigerian women are gradually pulling down the traditional barriers militating against their adequate participation in the education industry. The pulling down process is however slow largely because the force of tradition often takes time to break.
The norms of most Nigerian societies are too male oriented. Even school traditions many times discriminate against women’s education, as many text books are full of materials that reinforce gender discrimination and sex stereotyping. The career development of women is often tailored along specific occupations traditionally stereotyped as female occupation. Some teachers do not even have often like investing time on female pupils believing that most of them will sooner or later end up in marriage.
These diverse constraints to women education has its attendant effect on the teaching profession right from the training of a child in the classroom and the various behaviors of teachers to the pupils which culminate in the choice of career that the female child chooses.
With these in mind, one can say that the reason might not be far-fetched as it is known that the teaching job is laced with too many controversies and chiefly among them is the low remuneration which has enabled many to say that the reward of teachers is in heaven. If their reward is in heaven, then it is even a worse case for the woman as she is known to suffer double oppression from the society and the home front.
Anambra State has been in the news concerning the low level of the enrolment of male teachers and the reason given is that they are business inclined and need to make all the monies in the world as the meager salaries of the teaching profession cannot see to their needs and that of their families and as such, it must be a profession for women whom it is said do not need so much in term of cash because they are meant to be provided for.
However, research has revealed that the uneducated men at the long run get married to the educated females who in the long run begin to fill that there is a social imbalance as they cannot proudly introduce them to others and even in constructive discussions, there usually seems to be no melting point for the two thereby endangering the marriage institution and giving cause for concern for the most noble yet under paid profession.