Girls in Chitipa face a bleak future due to a widespread shortage of female teachers in primary schools.
The rare human resource for the education sector accounts for just 251 teachers out almost 1 052 serving in the district’s schools, figures at the district education office show.
Educationists, activists and the locals blame the situation for depriving girls of role models and confidants when it comes to setbacks specific to girls and women.
However, only five out of almost 4 716 newly employed teachers were posted to the border district with a tricky terrain.
“The district may be getting fewer female teachers graduating from teachers training colleges, but the major tragedy is that most of them come here as Mrs So and So and they keep escaping rural areas in the name of following their spouses. Others even fake or force marriages because they cannot stomach serving in remote schools,” said district education manager (DEM) Fanuel Chowowa.
Bruce Munthali, chairperson of Chigwirizano Community Based Organisation (CBO) in Nthalire, said many schools have no female teachers while many urban areas are flooded with female teachers.
The organisation, together with ActionAid, worked with the constrained communities to build quality houses to motivate female teachers to stop shunning remote areas in preference for towns and suburbs.
However, ActionAid project officer Elias Tamaona expressed shock as the shortage of female teachers has left majority of the houses either unoccupied or occupied by male teachers.
Chairperson of the Education Committee at Chitipa District Council, Osman Kanyika, asked government to employ more female teachers to lessen the workload of the teaching staff and the needs of vulnerable pupils in the district which emerged with the worst pass rate in Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education. n