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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Opinion: Female teachers key to achieving gender equality in education | Devex

Photo: 
Concerção da Glória Sozinho
Education expert Concerção da Glória Sozinho, nearly two decades’ experience in Mozambique’s education sector explores the potential of Mozambique's female teachers to transform the country's education system. 

A teacher writing on a blackboard in Mozambique.
Photo: GPE / Arnaldo Langa / CC BY-NC-ND

At this year’s European Development Days in Brussels, global leaders met to discuss the critical role education plays in sustainable development. Yet progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 — ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all — is in danger of stalling, due to a lack of gender equality in education and persistent barriers that prevent many young girls in developing economies — including my own Mozambique — from remaining in education.

Gender inequalities around the world are manifested in many aspects of education, including access, retention, and career choices. Female teachers provide an important solution to ensuring equal access to learning opportunities for both girls and boys. They can disseminate a culture of gender balance through education — not just in the classrooms but in local communities

However, countries such as my own have a problem. We are struggling to recruit and retain these women and addressing this must become a priority if any meaningful progress is to be made.

According to UNESCO, almost all girls in Mozambique enroll in primary school. Yet more than half drop out by the last grade of primary school, only 38 percent of girls start secondary school, and just 21 percent continue on to college.

The Mozambican government has rightly recognized the critical role of education in poverty alleviation and development, which now accounts for roughly 7 percent of GDP spending, higher than most neighboring countries. Primary education has been free for everyone for some years and the government is taking visible action to address nation-wide education challenges — yet the gender imbalance figures are still worrying...

Despite the clear benefits female teachers have in improving overall gender equity — retention rates of female teachers remain low across Mozambique and indeed Southern Africa more widely.

Women are underrepresented in higher levels of education, particularly leadership positions, with female headteachers above primary school level in Mozambique still a rarity.

In many countries, the system is rigged against women. Headteacher positions are often not assigned on qualifications but on the influence the person may have in the community or among local authorities — meaning the odds are often stacked against us. 
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Source: Devex    


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