14 October 2011
Joint Commonwealth-UNESCO study is launched in Paris on the feminisation of the teaching profession
The 2011 World Teachers’ Day was marked by the launch of a joint publication from the Commonwealth Secretariat and UNESCO at the latter organisation’s headquarters in Paris last week. The theme for the Day was 'Teachers for gender equality'.
‘Women and the teaching profession: exploring the feminisation debate in selected Commonwealth countries’ was launched by Dr Sylvia Anie, Director of Social Transformation Programmes at the Commonwealth Secretariat, and Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNSECO. The book discusses the gender imbalance in the teaching profession and its impact on learning and on women’s empowerment.
While most of the research in this area has focused on developed countries, where, for decades, the majority of teachers have been women, this study explores the teacher feminisation debate in developing countries.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Anie said: “Research on trends in the teaching profession indicates that women have increased their presence in nearly all levels of teaching, most notably at the primary and university levels.”
She explained that despite this increase, many women continue to experience inequity relating to remuneration, career progression and lack of promotion to managerial positions.
“And at the other end of the spectrum, it is argued that in some countries, boys have been negatively impacted by an overabundance of female teachers who cannot provide the role models they need,” she said.
“The issue of feminisation of the teaching profession is by no means simple. We need to continue to uncover the layers of issues and challenges that are impeding the progress of gender equality. This research will go a long way in continuing the dialogue and enhancing the data and discussion.”
Drawing on the experiences of Dominica, Lesotho, Samoa, Sri Lanka and India, the study offers an understanding of the role of female teachers in the expansion of education systems, and the surrounding gender equality issues.
Irena Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, delivered the World Teachers’ Day message, saluting partner organisations including the Commonwealth Secretariat for their “shared commitment to the teachers of the world”.
In her address, she emphasised that creating a culture of gender equality in the classroom calls for policies that address recruitment, training, curricula, textbooks and teaching styles - all through a gender lens.
World Teachers’ Day is celebrated each year on 5 October.