PESHAWAR: Acting on a proposal made earlier this year, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has approved that only female teachers will be hired in government-run primary schools across the province.
The provincial cabinet this week approved the proposal that the K-P Elementary and Secondary Education Department had made in January. From now on, only women will be hired on new vacancies for primary schoolteachers.
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At the moment, there are 72,110 schoolteachers in province’s more than 23,000 primary schools, according to the elementary education department’s annual statistics report. Of these, 45,525 teachers are male, and 26,585 are female.
The education department’s media adviser Najiullah Khattak confirmed to The Express Tribune that the provincial cabinet led by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had accepted its proposal.
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According to Khattak, the new academic year began this month and the department will now begin to hire female teachers.
“In all developed countries mostly women teach at the primary level,” he said. “Psychologically, children feel more comfortable with a woman than with a man.” Because women provide a more caring and loving environment, children’s interest in school increases, he added.
Citing the United Kingdom as an example, Khattak said 88 per cent of primary school teachers there are women, men account for only 12 per cent. At nursery level, 97 per cent of teachers are women, he said. The education department official further said that with the new policy in place dropout rates in K-P schools would decrease and more women will be added to the workforce.
However, educationists and experts have had mixed reactions to the new policy. Former schoolteacher and education expert Fazal Hanif was of the view that the decision will disproportionally affect men.
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“K-P already has few job opportunities for men. Teaching is a profession where a large number of men are employed,” he said. Hanif said that instead of just hiring women, the government should provide opportunities for both genders to work in public schools.
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On the other hand, Khwendo Kor, a non-profit that works to address women’s issues, welcomed the government’s decision but suggested it should first be observed as a model in some districts, and if it is successful, it should be extended to the province. Khwendo Kor Regional Manager Nazra Syed wondered how the policy would be implemented in far-flung rural areas where women tend to stay out of the public and professional sphere.
“The government would need to resolve these issues before implementing the decision,” she said. When questioned about what would happen to male teachers who are already working in primary schools, Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Muhammad Atif Khan told The Express Tribune that they would remain in service till they retire. The vacant positions will then be filled by women teachers.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2017.
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