No Sir, yes Madam!

Systemic gender disparities in teacher profile plague school education in the country.

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group

Systemic gender disparities in teacher profile plague school education in the country with northern India being the worst hit. This has led to the fairer sex being a minority in the classroom, especially in the Hindi heartland.

The disparity is even as the number of female teacher enrollment has registered a growth over the years with government laying stress on induction of female teachers. The gap between male and female teachers comes in the backdrop of teaching profession being widely christened as ‘the vocation’ for women due to their nurturing capabilities (remember ‘mother the first teacher’).

According to the latest available District Information System for Education report (DISE) (2010-11), the share of women in teaching is not even half of the total teachers’ population. The ratio is not going to alter unless Hindi heartland states make tangible progress in hiring women teachers.

These are also the states where patriarchy still rules the roost. However, what remains intriguing is that more number of professionally trained regular teachers is working in private aided schools than government managed schools. It could be perhaps due to fundamental shifts taking place in the education job market.

India has 44.83 percent of female teachers at school level as per DISE 2010-11. Schools in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have lower ratio of female teachers according to (DISE 2010-11). States like Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh have 29.22, 30.15, 38.53 and 40.43 percent of female teachers in schools respectively.

Citing historical and cultural factor as the prime reasons behind low share of female teachers in India, a professor (who did not wish to be identified) at the Department of Education, University of Delhi said, “This is a very region specific phenomenon and it varies from state to state and state to rural areas. States which have reported less percentage of female teachers usually have never encouraged the female counterparts to move out and work.”

Pointing the lack of proper infrastructure facilities as also one of the reasons behind such dismal situation in Hindi heartland states, H N Sahay, director operations at Smile Foundation India, an education focused non-governmental organization, said, “In these areas, the share of female teachers is disproportionately low as there is a hesitation from the female to teach in areas where provision for basic necessities like electricity and transport facilities are not available.”

A piqued Dr Sunita Chugh, assistant professor at the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), said, “If these states have appointed male teachers it is natural that the teachers will continue to teach till their respective term expires.” Citing the rule book, she proclaimed, “One needs to lay stress on the fact that in fresh appointments relaxation should be given to the female candidates. According to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), for appointment of every two teachers at the primary level, one has to be female.”

The silver lining, however, is that Goa, Chandigarh, Delhi and Kerala have more number of female teachers. Chandigarh has 82.57 percent of female teachers followed by Goa at 77.41 and Kerala at 74.05 percent respectively.

In the year 2009-10, government schools in India had 85.27 percent of professionally trained regular teachers; the figure has ebbed to 82.78 percent in 2010-11. On the contrary, the private aided schools in India have seen a rise in the percentage of professionally qualified regular teachers. In 2009-10, 84.56 percent of teachers were professionally trained; the latest figure of 2010-11 stood at 84.60 percent respectively. Overall at the national level, the share of professionally trained regular teachers in the year 2010-11 has declined. In 2009-10, 81.01 percent of regular teachers in India were professionally trained; the figure fell to 78.66 percent in 2010-11 respectively.

Highlighting the fallacies in government policies, the professor at Faculty of Education lamented, “In order to make the school education model more cost effective, the government laid stress on appointing para teachers rather than professionally trained teachers as the salary of a trained teacher is approximately six times more than a para teacher.”

Stressing the importance of hiring professionally trained teachers in the profession, Dr. Sahay at Smile Foundation said, “It is absolutely necessary that a teacher should be professionally qualified in order to teach in a more effective and planned manner. Teacher’s training helps a teacher to understand the classroom issues more carefully and methodically.”

Putting the gender debate in perspective, Dr. Chugh at NUEPA stressed that merely trumpeting the cause of female empowerment won’t help the cause of education. She recommended, “At the primary level, female teachers should be there as they can treat the kids more patiently but at the upper level if a female teacher is not professionally competitive, then one should never compromise on the quality just for the sake of promoting female teachers.”

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