by Nnadi Christopher Ikechukwu - WITHIN Nigeria

In recent time, experts, professionals and stakeholders in the education sector in Enugu state are have continued to scratch their heads to find 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.

However, an investigation by WITHIN NIGERIA revealed that the situation 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 at the 2021/2022 session.

Of this number, 8,340 were females and 2,075 males, representing a gender ratio of 80:20.

More so, 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 at the period under review.

This represents a gender spread of 76 per cent to a paltry 24 per cent female-to-male gender ratio, according to the report.

Also during the 2019/2020 Primary school teachers recruitment exercise in the state, out of 2,567 teachers employed, male teachers were 145.

What is the level of scarcity of male teachers?

At Community Primary school, Agbani, Nsukka, out of 12 teachers in the school, there is no male teacher at all.

The head teacher, Mrs. Cecilia Ugwu told WITHIN NIGERIA reporter 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 also in Nsukka, the popular and most populous school in the Nsukka metropolis with over 60 teachers, only three male teachers are in the school.

One of the male teachers who spoke under anonymity told our reporter that he was just there to wait for a greener pasture.

In his words, “after collecting my higher certificate from University of Nigeria Nsukka, I will apply for a better job. I don’t want to end up here as a head teacher because there is not much prospect here. Imagine our colleagues in secondary schools are being paid minimum wage while we in primary school board are left to wallow in penury.”

The Head Mistress of Ekulu Nursery and Primary School 4 Enugu metropolis, Chinwe Ifeyinwa revealed that Ekulu’s four autonomous schools has only one male teacher, blaming the 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,” he lamented.

“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.”

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 and only nine male teachers.

According to her, most male teachers appear not to be fully committed to the profession because they are always 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 are starting to think that the teaching profession, especially at this level, is meant for females,” Ms Ebue agonised.

More female teachers even in all-male school!

Even in an all-male school like the Union Secondary School in Akwunanaw, Enugu, there are more than 50 female teachers, with only five male teachers in the mix.

The Vice-Principal (Administration) of the school, Ijeoma Jideofor, said 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.

In his contribution, Ikechukwu Nvene, a Biology teacher in the school, admitted that most male teachers are 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,” 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,” she argued “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.”

Women lobby to get job

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.

Eze, who taught Economics at Urban Girls Secondary School, Nsukka, noted that some men who were interested in the profession could not get in because they didn’t have the necessary contacts to help them get recruited.

“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,” Eze contended. “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 job, compared to the males.”

Most of the male teachers who spoke with our reporter observed that their passion for the teaching profession is what has kept them going despite the odds.

For Lawrence Ekwe, a teacher of over 15 years and a 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 Ekwe said, adding that “both genders are needed to produce balanced youths.”

On his part, a teacher who identified himself simply as Mr. Nwankwo said the loss of the prestige associated with the teaching profession is 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.

According to him, another challenge is the arrogance and show-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.

Another teacher who gave his name as John Egbe at Saint Teresa’s College, Nsukka told WITHIN NIGERIA that ” we have not been paid our leave allowance since three years now. This is one of the things that discourage male folk from teaching profession. We just pray that after election this week and next month, when new administration comes, things will change for better.”

However, all efforts to get the reactions of the Chairman Post Primary School Management Board, PPSMB, Enugu, Dr. Favour Ugwuanyi and her counterpart in Enugu state Universal Education Board, ENSUBEB Ikeji Asogwa proved abortive as the duo were not picking their calls.

At the moment, there is no end in sight to the ugly trend as universities and colleges of Education in the state continue to swell with large numbers of female students in their respective education faculties.

March 12, 2023

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