Increasing Female Primary School Teachers in African Countries: Barriers and Policies

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Increasing Female Primary School Teachers

in African Countries: Barriers and Policies

Caitlin S. Haugen, Steven J. Klees, Nelly P. Stromquist, Jing Lin, Truphena Choti, Carol Corneilse

University of Maryland,

College Park, MD, USA

June 2011

Forum for African Women Educationalists
This report was produced through a grant from the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) to the University of Maryland. All opinions expressed are those of the authors alone.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 3

Introduction 4

Conceptual Framework 5

Girls’ Education as an International Priority 5

The State of Girls’ Education 6

Benefits of Girls’ Education 7

Barriers to Girls’ Education 7

Economic Barriers 8

Institutional Barriers 8

Gender Based Discrimination and Violence as Barriers 9

Poverty and Urban-Rural Divides as Barriers 10

Quality Considerations 10

Effects of Teachers 12

Effects of Female Teachers 15

Effect on Enrollment and Retention 16

Effect on Academic Performance 16

Students’ Perceptions of Teachers 18

Teachers’ Perceptions of Students 18

Teachers as Role Models 18

Single Sex Schools 19

Summary: The Effects of Female Teachers 21

The Challenges of Teacher Supply and Demand 21

Teacher Remuneration 22

Structural Adjustment Policies 23

Civil Service Nature of the Profession 24

Perceptions of Teaching 24

Working Conditions and Support 24

Training 25

HIV and AIDS 26

Challenges Unique to Female Teachers 27

Working Conditions for Female Teachers 29

Female Teachers and Salary 31

Sex Segregation and Over-Feminization 31

Addressing the Challenges of Teacher Recruitment and Retention Through Policy 33

Strengthening the Pipeline 34

Alternative Teacher Training 34

Decentralized Staffing 35

Incentives 36

Empowerment 36

Gender Sensitivity 37

Discussion 38

Limitations 38

Suggestions for Future Research 39

Conclusion 39

References 41

Executive Summary

Girls’ education, recognized as an international development priority for the last forty years, has seen shifting policy and research agendas – from a focus on enrollment numbers to considerations of quality and retention issues. A great deal of this research has concentrated on Africa due to low enrollment and completion rates among females. Despite this attention to girls’ education and extensive research on the benefits of educating girls, females still face numerous social, cultural, economic, and institutional barriers that keep them from enrolling in school or from attaining a high-quality education – especially in Africa.

Recent literature suggests that female teachers have an important role to play in addressing quality and access issues for girls. This literature review examines empirical evidence that shows how increasing female teachers in primary education may improve girls’ educational achievement and attainment. The review includes an examination of the barriers women teachers face and policies that may facilitate their entry to the profession. Beginning with a global view, the paper moves to women in the African context and examines their challenges through a gender lens.

This extensive review reveals several significant findings. High quality teachers (regardless of gender) positively affect students’ performance and enrollment. However, female teachers make a significant difference in developing countries – where girls often face considerable social and cultural barriers to an education. Women teachers lead to higher enrollment and retention rates for girls, allow female students to have more positive educational experiences, and even mitigate cultural and social barriers that keep girls out of school. While research strongly indicates female teachers make a difference in girls’ education, many countries have relatively few females in the teaching force. These numbers are lowest in Africa where women make up less than half the teaching force in 28 countries.

Literature focused on teacher recruitment and retention suggests that governments face considerable challenges when attempting to find teachers to meet personnel demands, especially with the introduction of universal primary education and Education for All (EFA) policies. Low pay relative to other trained professions, salary and hiring caps as a result of structural adjustment policies, bureaucratic problems (including late pay, slow hiring and firing systems, and unreliable pay delivery), lack of or poor training, and low public perception of teaching make it difficult to fill teaching positions. Recruiting and retaining female teachers in male-dominated societies presents a unique set of challenges, such as under-representation of women in leadership positions, safety concerns, patriarchal family relations that make relocation difficult, unbalanced family responsibilities for women that make outside or additional employment challenging, and sexual violence or exploitation. In order to address these challenges, this report makes several policy recommendations based on empirical evidence and best practices worldwide, for example:

  • Expanding the pipeline of potential teachers

  • Alternative teacher training

  • Decentralized staffing to allow local recruitment in rural areas

  • Incentives such as hardship pay for rural areas, providing safe housing, and benefits

  • Empowering women to play major decision-making roles throughout the educational system.

  • Gender sensitivity training for teachers, students, and administrators to create environments where women feel safe and respected

Despite the myriad challenges, with effective policies and strong financial investment, ministries of education can make great strides towards increasing the numbers of female teachers. Doing so is an essential step in reaching educational enrollment, retention, and achievement goals for girls worldwide.

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