Where have all the sirs gone? The depletion of male teachers in the education system is now a worldwide phenomenon. A news report on NBC Nightly News last Monday showed some shocking statistics. In the 1980’s, 81% teachers in the public education system in America were males; today just 24.9% of the nation’s 3 million teachers are men. The number of male teachers in the USA now stands at a 40- year all- time low.
In Guyana the situation is not much different. There are more female than male Regional Education Officers in the Education system here in Guyana. The Minister within the Ministry of Education is a female. The Chief Education Officer is a female. The Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) is female. The main Education Officers for Nursery, Primary and Secondary are all females!
The highest paid teacher in the land is a female! She is also the lone female principal of the only teacher- training institution in Guyana-the Cyril Potter College of Education. All of her Vice- Principals are also females. Should I go on?! In Berbice and I dare say Guyana, most Headteachers are also females.
One person on the above- mentioned newscast said that it is very important that children see males in roles of teaching. In ‘The World Today’, a news service from Australia, a report stated that boys are suffering due to a chronic shortage of male role models within schools.
Also with so many mothers who are single- parents, the male teacher might very well be the only ‘father- figure’ the child (attending school) will ever encounter in his or her life.
So what are the factors behind this issue? Well, the issue of salary is right there up on top. Many males are after higher paying jobs, while teaching is not really a profession that pays the piper. So many countries around the world are addressing the salary issue to lure more males back to the profession.
Secondly, there are notions, and many males believe this, that teaching is a woman’s work. Also many men don’t see the teaching profession as a lucrative way of providing for their families-or themselves!Then there is the prevailing philosophy within education that men go into teaching to “teach the subject,” and women enter teaching to nurture and develop children. Since males tend to gravitate toward secondary teaching, this leaves a critical shortage of male teachers at the elementary level as well as other levels in the education system.
There are numerous initiatives worldwide whereby countries are trying all kinds of means to recruit male teachers. One of them is to address the wage gap.
The other is to identify and recruit young men who are currently in high schools to enter teaching.
Then another way is through existing teachers. There are teachers who spread the word to their male students. The National Education Association (NEA) in the USA has taken all of the mentioned initiatives and putting them in motion. In a couple of years’ time, there might very well be an increase of males in teaching in that country.
The Ministry of Education’s website has some figures which were last updated in 2000 regarding the amount of male and female teachers in the system. Nursery: 22 males, 2196 females; Primary: 561 males, 3390 females; High Schools: 715 males, 1257 females; Teacher Training Institution: 121 males, 176 females; Private Schools: 27 males, 93 females. Male teachers, however, outnumber the females slightly in University and Tech/Vocational institutions.
In total (as of 2000), there were 2342 male teachers and 8265 female teachers in Guyana. The numbers speak for themselves. The entire chart can be viewed at http://www.sdnp.org.gy/minedu/research/stats/stats.htm#b.