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Increasing women's participation in the primary school teaching force and teacher training in Nepal



Although research shows that Nepalese parents prefer sending girls to schools with female teachers, only 12.8 percent of Nepalese primary school teachers are women. Nepal has among the lowest enrollment and retention rates for girls in the world. One strategy to correct the situation is to increase the number of women who become and remain teachers. But teacher training is also important; 60 percent of Nepalese teachers are untrained, so the quality of education is poor - often rote memorization, with the teacher simply reading textbooks aloud. The author tried to find out what factors affect Nepali women's decision to join the primary school teaching force and to participate in in-service teacher training. Prior studies, using large survey methods, did not provide the information program planners needed. The author chose a research strategy more appropriate to the Nepali culture by combining quantitative and qualitative methods. The author focused on the participation of women in the primary teaching force and on two in-service teacher training projects: the Primary Education Project (PEP); and the Radio Education Teacher Training Project (RETT). In the PEP, teachers from 10 to 15 primary schools receive in-service training in short sessions at a resource center. They get roughly a dollar a day to cover their food and lodging costs. The RETT provides in-service training to primary teachers through daily radio broadcasts, plus written assignments and monthly meetings in resource centers. Gender disaggregated information on the RETT and the PEP programs had never been collected. The author hypothesized that female teachers'needs are different from those of their male counterparts and this would reflect in differential participation rates. Some of the author's conclusions are below. First, women are more likely to be recruited as teachers or into training programs if information about positions and programs is made available to them in a timely, accessible way. To do this, extension agents could be hired to bring information from the ministry or program to intended beneficiaries. Teaching positions and training programs could be advertised in short radio messages and in letters to primary school principals. Second, women are less likely to get training if the resource center is inaccessible. To counter disincentives for women to travel away from their homes and villages, culturally acceptable travel companions, lodging, and child care should be provided. Third, the current broadcast time for radio training conflicted with women's household responsibilities. Changing the time to later in the evening would increase female participation in the program. Lastly, women often lacked family support to become teachers or to become trained. To increase such support, existing incentives (including allowances and salary increases) should be publicized.

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