|Gender Gaps in Schools and Colleges: Can Teacher Education Policy Improve Gender Equity in Malawi? (CIE, 2000, 53 p.)|
This paper will look at the potential role of initial teacher education in addressing gender inequities at different levels of the Malawian education system, and show how inequities at one level contribute to and reinforce inequities at other levels. My focus is on gender equity in the employment of teachers and teacher educators, although by discussing female teachers as role models, there is also some consideration of the promotion of gender equity in school achievement1. The research on which the paper is based was carried out as part of a study of primary teacher education in Malawi, which is itself a sub-study of the MUSTER2 Project. The central argument of the paper is that as a result of the gender gap in education in Malawi, it is necessary to consider how teacher education policy might impact differently on women and men i.e. to mainstream gender in policymaking and implementation. The paper ends with a number of policy recommendations, which are as follows. Firstly, there is a need for more involvement of stakeholders in policy-making. Secondly, the entrance requirements for initial teacher education should not be raised and there is an argument for lengthening the residential component of training and providing more language support for teachers. Thirdly, more boarding accommodation should be provided for female teachers. Fourthly, support should be provided for teachers intending to upgrade their qualifications. Fifthly, there is a need for teachers' professional development to pay more attention to gender issues. Sixthly, qualified teachers with experience of implementing free universal primary education should be recruited as tutors in the training college and more opportunities for upgrading should be provided for college tutors.
1 I recognise that much of the school and college curriculum is gendered, even in the way that academic disciplines are constructed (Harris, 1997). I also recognise that the current structure of formal schooling is not above question; it seems too often to define young people as failures and serve to reproduce an elite, rather than help individuals and communities develop their broad potential (Serpell, 1993, 1999, Bloch and Vavrus, 1998). It is beyond the scope of this paper however, to address these issues.
2 The MUSTER (Multi-site teacher education research) Project is a collaboration between the University of Sussex Institute of Education, and educational research institutes in Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, and Trinidad and Tobago.