A large number of teachers in Anambra State primary and secondary schools are women. Some schools do not have male teachers at all. Stakeholders are calling for a change, reports EMMA ELEKWA, ONITSHA.
To stakeholders and the public, the number of male teachers in nursery, primary and secondary schools nationwide is worrisome.
Teaching is gradually becoming an exclusive preserve of women provoking the question: where are the teachers?
In Anambra State, the case is more pronounced in primary and secondary schools where statistics show that over 80 per cent of teachers are women.
Several factors are attributed for the trend and its attendant implications on the education sector.
While some blamed it on poor remuneration of teachers, others said the profession demanded patience and tolerance, a twin-virtue lacking among the male folk.
They argued that improved salary and general welfare packages for teachers would go a long way to reverse the trend and make it more attractive for men.
Speaking with The Nation, Coordinator, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) in Anambra State, Lady Chinelo Otigba, said poor remuneration contributed largely to the near absence of male teachers in the profession.
She said: “Due to the pay package, male teachers are running away because they have to marry and have other responsibilities to carry out with their meagre salaries.
“We need men in our schools because there are certain subjects they can teach, especially technical subjects, which women cannot handle because of the kinds of equipment in technical schools.”
She said the Council was doing its best to ensure that teachers were among the best paid in the country.
Special Assistant to the Governor on Grassroots Mobilisation and Enlightenment, Sir Anthony Ugoji, expressed worry over the development.
He said the trend, if not tackled, would impact negatively on students and their academic pursuits in future.
“How can you tell me that in a school of over 20 teachers, you won’t see a single male teacher? This is an abomination to our society.
“We need to do something, including review of teachers’ salaries to make the profession attractive for men to go into,” he stressed
A medical practitioner, Dr. Jude Obi, said the paucity of male teachers was a time bomb waiting to explode. He canvassed gender balance in educational institutions, insisting that male and female teachers have distinctive roles to play in moulding the character of the learners.
“There is supposed to be male and female gender in every school. They can learn so much from each other in the course of their interactions,” he said.
On his part, Principal of Igwebuike Grammar School, Dr. Uchechukwu Anekokwu, attributed the decline to the method of recruitment, which, according to him, seemed to accord priority to female applicants,.
He warned that it may have grave consequences years to come.
“If nothing is done to salvage the situation between now and 2025, you may hardly see a single male teacher in both primary and secondary schools,” he said.
The immediate past chairman, Academic Staff Union of universities (ASUU), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Denis Aribodo, said the trend was gradually crippling into the tertiary education.
He said, “It’s crippling gradually into the university system because if you compare the statistics of female lecturers with that of their male counterparts, you’ll notice a significant difference. The gap is closing.
“Presently, women are paralleling with the men in the tertiary institutions in the area of lecturing. In the past, it was about 20:80 female to male ratio. But now, it’s almost 50:50 ratio especially in the Southern Nigeria. It may not be the same in the North.”
Aribodo however noted that as encouraging as the development seemed to be, there was the need to check the trend in order not to encounter the current experience in the primary/secondary schools.
A businessman, Obiora Igwenagu, thinks differently. He argued that what was important was the level of personal discipline exhibited by a teacher and not necessarily his or her gender.
“If both male and female teachers behave responsibly, you see their pupils take after them,” he said.
Igwenagu stressed the need for teachers to update their knowledge through research and training.
“Every teacher should go to research institute and spend quality time. When they come back, they do not repeat the same things over and over again,” he added.
For Dr. Ndidi Iheama, a university lecturer, majority of the men hardly measure up with the demands of the teaching profession.
She said: “Teaching job tends to tie people down and men want to use their time for other things.
“Teaching demands sitting down, writing lesson notes and all that. Men just don’t have that time.
“If you have not prepared lesson notes, lesson plan and prepared instruction materials or teaching aids with targets, you will not appreciate the task before a teacher.”
On his part, another academic, Dr. Sunday Okafor, said the teaching profession should be seen as a calling. “Something must attract a man to something. Either money is the source of the calling or passion for teaching.
“In an event where money is the main or the only reason for the calling, the ‘callee’ certainly must leave the ‘caller’ into searching for greener pastures,” he noted.
Comparing teaching with nursing, Okafor argued that it would be difficult for men to be found in nursery and primary schools in view of the class of persons there.
He said: “Teaching in nursery and primary schools is more like a nursing. We have nursing mothers (women) and not nursing fathers. So many men will find it difficult to do nursing work.
“Nursing work includes cleaning poo and wee, runny nose and running stomach, oil and dust on your well-ironed shirts, climbing on your head and stomach, changing pampers, among other things.
“Even in children ministry in churches, you have more aunties than uncles. Even the uncles will be reluctant, if at all they agree to go to pre-nursery class. Rather, they will prefer to teach children in JS and SS classes.”