Women teachers being nurturers by nature are making an impact in Congo’s schools.
THE Itsali primary school is on a dusty road near Brazzaville’s airport in the Republic of Congo. All but one of the 20 teachers in the school are women. It is a sign of the major gender shift in the nation’s educational system over the past two decades.
The small school employs almost exclusively women, from its directors and teachers to administrators and secretaries.
“There are less than five male teachers which speaks volumes of how things have been shaping up over the years,” said Rachel Mfina, who has been working at Itsali since the school was founded in 2003.
At Itsali, conditions are basic. Since there is no space to hold separate classes at the same time, lessons take place in five-hour “shifts”.
The first session starts from the morning till noon, while the next session starts at 12.30pm.
The schoolyard serves as a shortcut for locals who get across from one area of the town to the other.
The teachers are focused and remain enthusiastic about nurturing their charges.
For 25-year-old Gloire Louzolo, who joined the school at the beginning of the last academic year, teaching has always been her vocation.
“I’ve loved teaching since I was a child ... I liked school and teaching from the time I was in preschool,” she said, her blue blouse covered in chalk dust.
“I was 15 when I entered the national school for teachers where I studied for two years. It was a good course and I enjoyed it,” said Louzolo.
It was just over 20 years ago that the image of the teaching profession in Congo started to change.
“The phenomenon of women in our education system began in 1990,” Vital Eka, general director of basic education, said to the string of structural reforms that were implemented when the central African country fell into recession.
“All of a sudden, teaching was the only profession that still recruited, and women too began to show more interest.
“It’s only natural because a woman is the one who raises children in society” said Eka.
Men who used to dominate the sector before, now prefer to get into fields with better pay such as tax and customer services, he added.
About one third of Congo’s 9,500 teachers work in primary schools, with the rise of female teachers now apparent throughout the country in both state and private institutions.
“Women seem to be the priority over men for teaching jobs, and there are more positions for them,” said 49-year-old Aime Godefroy Dianzinga, the parent of an Itsali student.
According to official statistics, its capital Brazzaville tops the league with a record of 1,254 women among its 1,487 teachers.
Coincidence or not, Congo also boasts a high level of literacy, which stood at 87% in 2011 for a population of 3.6 million.
Christophe Poaty, a spokesman for the teaching union, said women have come to the fore in the world of teaching as the training period is short and salaries are paid promptly. They’ve also made a difference. — AFP
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