Data from Enugu State has shown that there are more female teachers than male teachers in public schools. Recently, experts, professionals and stakeholders in the education sector in the state have continued to seek a lasting solution to the growing challenges of low percentage of male teachers in schools across the state. Though most of them identified poor remuneration of teachers as the major factor driving the gender imbalance in the teaching profession in the state, others see it as the manifestation of affirmative action. A recent investigation has revealed that the situation, however, has become so alarming that even private schools are equally grossly affected.
According to data on the website of the Federal Ministry of Education, Enugu State has 10,415 teachers in public primary schools as of the 2021/2022 session. Of this number, 8,340 were females and 2,075 males. This represents roughly a gender ratio of 80:20. Also, 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 as of the period under review. This represents roughly a gender spread of 76 percent to 24 percent female-to-male ratio. During the 2019/2020 primary school teachers’ recruitment exercise in the state, out of the 2,567 teachers employed, only 145 were male.
The level of scarcity of male teachers is so obvious at individual schools.
For instance, at Community Primary school, Agbani, Nsukka, there is no male teacher at all out of 12 teachers in the school. The head teacher, Mrs. Cecilia Ugwu told the media that “since I came to this school some years ago, we have not had any male teacher. Apart from a male messenger here, there is no presence of any male staff in my school.” At Model Primary School still in Nsukka, the popular and most populous school in the Nsukka metropolis with over 60 teachers, only three teachers are male in the school. One of the male teachers who spoke under anonymity told the media that he was just there to wait for a greener pasture. He said he will apply for a better job after bagging a higher certificate from University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The Head Mistress of Ekulu Nursery and Primary School 4 at Enugu metropolis, Chinwe Ifeyinwa, revealed that Ekulu’s four autonomous schools has only one male teacher, blaming the deficit on the poor remuneration of teachers. She said that the lack of male teachers also has an effect on the physical education of students. “For example, in organizing 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 said. The Vice-Principal (Academics), Government Secondary School, Enugu, Donald Ndubuisi, said that male teachers also play important roles in enforcing discipline in schools.
There are more female teachers even in all-male schools.
Even in an all-male school like the Union Secondary School in Akwunanaw, Enugu, there are more than 50 female teachers. Sadly, the school has only five male teachers. The Vice-Principal (Administration) of the school, Ijeoma Jideofor, said that men are discouraged from the teaching profession because of the many financial responsibilities they face, which they could not conveniently meet with their earnings from teaching. Ikechukwu Nvene, a biology teacher in the school, admitted that most male teachers are in the profession because they could not get better alternatives.
He said, “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.” 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. She said that the shortage of male teachers has no negative impact on education. She said that the few teachers can also serve as models if they have positive values and work hard.
Women also lobby to get those jobs while interested applicants are denied.
Jonathan Eze, a teacher with over 25 years’ experience, believes that factors other than interest and or passion for the job, may also be responsible for lack of enough male teachers in the teaching service. He said there is the issue of godfatherism. Some men are interested in teaching, he said, but they do not have anyone to lobby for them to get 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.” He reiterates that males do not totally hate the teaching profession, but many do not have anyone to “fight” for them. He said that most women have people of influence to get the job compared to men.
Federal Ministry of Education: Website