Jigawa: Addressing uneven deployment patterns amongst female teachers in public primary schools

By Alexandra Doyle, Oxford Policy Management (OPM) Consultant

The education system in northern Nigeria faces a number of challenges, amongst which is a pervasive shortage of teachers particularly in public primary schools. Using data from the Annual School Census (ASC), the teacher supply and demand (TSD) study in Jigawa state was able to assess these shortages at the school, local government area (LGA), and state level to assess both teacher needs and deployment patterns. By looking at pupil-teacher ratios (PTRs), we were able to compare the current PTR to the nationally prescribed norm of 40:1. The study in Jigawa found evidence of severe shortages of teachers within the state, particularly in rural public primary schools. While Kiyawa LGA had an average PTR of 83:1, other LGAs, such as Auyo, had favourable PTRs (see Figure 1). These figures mask large disparities of PTR between schools within the LGA but is indicative of uneven deployment within the state. Overall, to meet the 40:1 PTR, Jigawa would require the recruitment of 1,672 new teachers.

While there are clearly overall teacher shortages in public primary schools in Jigawa, the state also has a specific need for more female teachers. According to the ASC data, only 12% of primary teachers are female, while for Junior Secondary Schools (JSS), the number is even lower at 8% of teachers. This means that for both primary and JSS, only a very small share of pupils are currently taught by female teachers. The imputed pupil-to-female teacher ratio lies at 380:1 for primary education and 410:1 for JSS.

The implications of these gender gaps for girls’ education outcomes in Jigawa are unclear. One argument is that the presence of female teachers has a positive impact on girls’ enrolment, retention and educational outcomes in school (Dunne et al, 2015). However, the evidence for this in the Nigerian context is limited. After comparing girls’ attainment with schools’ gender profiles in Nigeria and Tanzania, ActionAid (2011) noted that “the presence of female teachers does not appear significant in supporting girls’ progression and attainment”. It further noted that female teachers needed better training and support to serve as role models for girls. Qualitative studies in Kogi and Adamawa state appear to support this, with the former finding that female teachers may also hold gender-stereotyped expectations about girls’ capabilities (Bakari 2013; Dunne et al. 2013; cited in Humphreys and Crawfurd 2014).

It is noteworthy that these teacher shortages occur despite a large over-supply of graduate teachers in Jigawa state.  Specifically, upon graduation, 53-64% of teacher graduates are not recruited into the teaching profession resulting in a large, and growing, stock of trained teacher graduates who are not deployed into teaching positions. This speaks not to a shortage of the supply of teachers but rather to problems in recruitment and deployment procedures – the policies which should work towards balancing teacher supply and teacher demand such that teachers are posted to schools in which they are needed rather than to the most desirable schools.

To the extent that the presence of female teachers has a positive effect on girls’ enrolment, deployment policies should aim to evenly distribute female teachers amongst rural and urban posts. However, uneven deployment patterns, particularly relating to female teachers, are pervasive in Jigawa. Specifically, of all rural primary teachers, only 5% are female. The study found that women tend to have a strong preference for urban postings, often because they want to be near their spouses.

In order to address the shortage of female teachers, the government of Jigawa state has actively pushed for the expansion of enrolment at Jigawa’s two Colleges of Education (CoEs) through a ‘Free Girls Education’ initiative launched by the Commissioner of Education. This policy stipulates that the state government will pay all school fees for female Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) students. On this basis, both Colleges reported facing pressure from the state and from parents to increase enrolment for (female) students. This has particularly been the case for the College for Islamic and Legal Studies (CILS) in Ringim where female enrolment has increased since the introduction of this initiative.

A second initiative, recently introduced by Jigawa’s Commissioner for Education, is the Female Teachers Development Skills Initiative. This programme, inspired by the Female Teacher Training Scholarship Scheme (FTTSS), aims to provide training and mentoring to guide women from LGAs with higher teacher needs into the teaching profession. This will start by selecting students in senior secondary schools and providing them with extra classes on pedagogy and the education curriculum. From here, they will enter into the College of Education and are provided with a government sponsorship, in return for pledging to teach in a rural primary school for two years upon graduation. This new programme is funded under the new Global Partnership for Education (GPE) programme and will commence in 2017.

The FTTSS has been operating in a number of other states including Bauchi, Katsina, Niger and Sokoto since 2008 and expanded to Zamfara in 2012. While stakeholders have expressed support for a scheme of this kind that promotes the recruitment of female teachers, particularly to rural areas, they also noted that the FTTSS has encountered various implementation challenges. For example, while trainees are supposed to be from rural areas, there have been cases of trainees managing to be selected based on their political connections despite residing in urban areas. There have also been cases where trainees say they are from rural areas during the selection process but refuse to work in rural schools upon graduation because their families have moved to a city. Furthermore, research by EDOREN in Niger and Bauchi highlights that it is difficult to find enough academically qualified women from rural communities to enter the FTTSS. Partly as a result, an assessment of the programme found only a small share of students graduating within four years (45% in Bauchi, and 17% in Niger state). It was also found that its focus on teacher training in states with graduate teacher over-supply (as is the case in Jigawa) may be ill-advised. Instead, it was recommended that “the processes from graduation to deployment need greater specific attention, to realise the FTTSS objective of getting more female teachers into rural schools” (Dunne et al, 2014).

Keeping in mind the over-supply of graduate teachers in Jigawa, a priority relates to the need to increase the share of female graduate teachers who actually transition into the education system. The aforementioned initiatives which focus on training additional women will not necessarily benefit schools given Jigawa’s low absorption-rate of teacher graduates. Instead, the initiatives should additionally focus on female recruitment to create a ‘female recruitment and deployment programme’. Such a recruitment scheme should provide additional pay or incentives for high-quality female graduate teachers to teach in hard-to-staff rural schools. This should be the first priority for any new recruitment drives. This scheme could provide a powerful example of improving professionalism of primary schools and JSS by linking it to a formal, transparent and robust recruitment system that combines content knowledge and teaching skills (Watts and Allsop, 2015). Alongside such an ambitious programme, adopting a female ‘quota’ in new recruitment and replacement processes will also likely play an important role to increasing the share of female teachers in Jigawa.

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