Professionals in the education sector in Enugu State have bemoaned the very low number of male teachers in schools across the state.
Most of them identified poor remuneration of teachers as the major factor driving the gender imbalance in the teaching profession in the state.
The professionals made their views known in a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu State.
The Federal Ministry of Education, in March, organised a zonal stakeholder’s meeting in Enugu State to revise the 14-year-old National Policy on Gender in Education.
Among others, the zero draft of the policy listed the lack of male teacher models as one of the emerging issues hampering the successful implementation of the policy in the South-east.
According to open data on the website of the Federal Ministry of Education, Enugu State has 10,415 teachers in public primary schools as at the 2015/2016 session.
Of this number, 8,340 were females and 2,075 were males, representing a gender ratio of 80:20.
Furthermore, at the senior secondary school level, the total number of female teachers in public and private schools was 20,552, compared to the 6,512 for males.
This represents a gender spread of 76 per cent to a paltry 24 per cent female-to-male gender ratio, according to analysis by NAN.
Only one male teacher in four schools!
Speaking with NAN, the Head Mistress of Ekulu Nursery and Primary School – 4, Enugu State, Chinwe Ifeyinwa, revealed that Ekulu’s four autonomous schools had only one male teacher.
Mrs Ifeyinwa blamed this deficit on the “poor pay packet” of teachers.
“The lack of male teachers also has an effect on the physical education of students. For example, in organising sports such as football.
“It is the duty of the male teachers to teach them these things. However, some of the female teachers have learned how to coach the boys,” she added.
According to the Vice-Principal (Academics), Government Secondary School, Enugu, Donald Ndubuisi, male teachers play important roles in enforcing discipline in schools.
“There is a need for a balance in the proportion of male to female teachers in schools.
“In some of the big schools where students exhibit some forms of juvenile exuberances, you will discover that male teachers are not there.
“This means that the government would have to employ security agencies such as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to help keep the school safe.
“Ordinarily, male teachers would have helped to bridge this gap,” Mr Ndubuisi noted.
In her contribution, the Principal of Urban Girls Secondary School, Enugu, Jacinta Ebue, described the shortage as a current and future problem.
Ms Ebue said the all-female secondary school has 83 female teachers, while the male teachers are nine only.
She also said most male teachers appeared not to be fully committed to the profession because they were on the lookout for another job or an additional source of income.
“The current situation is giving the younger ones the idea that the profession is gender-based. They start thinking that the teaching profession, especially at this level, is meant for females,” Ms Ebue added.
More female teachers even in all-male school!
Even in all-male school like the Union Secondary School in Akwunanaw, Enugu, there are more than 50 female teachers, while the male teachers are only five.
The Vice-Principal (Administration) of the school, Ijeoma Jideofor, said men were discouraged from the teaching profession because of the many financial responsibilities they faced.
In his contribution, Ikechukwu Nvene, a Biology teacher at the school, admitted that most male teachers were in the profession because they could not get better alternatives.
“The implication of this is here with us, even now. Most of us are here in the schools because we could not get what we wanted elsewhere.
“And when you are here because you don’t have any other place to go, you cannot give your best as there would be no passion for the job.
“Most people are not here because they want to teach,” Mr Nvene asserted.
However, while most of the school administrators see this gender imbalance as a problem, the Principal of Prime Rose School, one of Enugu’s elite private schools, Ubaka Onwuegbuna, differs.
“For the education of the male child, I don’t think the shortage of male teachers has any negative impact.
“This is because the few teachers can also serve as models if they have positive values and work hard. The male students can imitate and look up to them as role models,” Mrs Onwuegbuna said.
‘Most women have ‘long legs’ to get the jobs’
Calistus Nwankwo, a teacher with over 25 years of experience, believed other factors also contributed to the gender imbalance.
Mr Nwankwo, who taught Economics at Urban Girls Secondary School, noted that some men who were interested in the profession could not get in.
“Apart from remuneration, there is the issue of godfatherism. Some men are interested in teaching, but they don’t have somebody to put them there.
“For example, during the N-Power recruitment exercise, I know somebody that scored a high grade but could not get in because he did not have anybody to push him through.
“So, it is not that males totally hate the teaching profession. Some don’t just have people to fight for them. Most women have ‘long legs’ to get the jobs, compared to the males,” he said.
Most of the male teachers who spoke with NAN observed that their passion for the teaching profession was what kept them going despite the odds.
For Levi Orjinweke, a teacher of over 15 years and French tutor at Urban Girls Secondary School, his love for the subject he is teaching has made him enjoy the job.
“It is the passion I have for the subject I teach, not just any other thing. The language I teach is a very important language to me because I love it. I need to stay in form. If you don’t teach it, you forget it,” Mr Orjinweke said.
He said “both genders are needed to produce balanced youths.”
On his part, Mr Nwankwo said the loss of the prestige associated with the teaching profession was also a problem.
“You find it difficult to behave like others, especially financially. Also, people no longer respect the intellect of the teachers. Rather, everybody respects worldly things like money,” he noted.
Mr Nwankwo said another challenge was the arrogance and showing-off by female teachers who have wealthy husbands.
“The way they show off will tell you that you are in danger. If you are not a full man, you may begin to find another way out, especially when you are not called to the profession,” he said.
Mr Nwankwo however, said such a situation should spur the male teachers to maximize their performance by doing more to help their students achieve excellence.
In order to address the deficit, the educationists who spoke with NAN called on the government to increase the salaries and other financial allowances of teachers.
Mr Ndubuisi called on the government to grant automatic employment to male graduates who studied education in tertiary institutions.
Mr Ebue on his part called on male professionals to place less emphasis on materialism.
Ms Jideofor called on the government to restore the glory in the teaching profession.
“In the past, the government gave senior civil servants car loans which they deducted in installments from their salaries.
“They also used to provide teachers and their families with accommodation. These days, there are no car loans, no incentives, no staff quarters.
“You see teachers struggling to survive (everywhere),” she said.
“These teachers need to make ends meet. They have their own children in schools and want to train them properly,” Mr Ebue added, in his contribution.
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