A huge body of evidence supports greater enrolment and retention of female students, especially at the secondary and higher secondary levels is linked to the presence of female teaching staff.
While documenting community members’ viewpoints in Balochistan for the recently published white papers by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), it was frequently shared that female teachers were less likely to be absent from duty when compared to their male counterparts and exhibited a higher sense of responsibility.
Despite the merits, the shortage of qualified female teachers in rural communities has been a challenge, especially at the post-primary level across Pakistan. Provinces, such as Balochistan are most affected by this phenomenon.
The shortage of qualified female teachers is a result of the historical deprivation of educational opportunities for girls. The pre-requisite qualification for recruitment of government school teachers has a compounding effect. The teacher recruitment policy in Balochistan, for instance, requires recruited teachers to take a mandatory test set up by the National Testing Service (NTS). Since not many female teacher candidates in Balochistan have completed a bachelors’ degree, their appointment as a government school teacher is not possible under the system. The teacher recruitment policy in this regard proves to be gender and context insensitive and tends to aggravate the issue of female teacher shortage in the province.
Accordingly, the criteria to qualify for a teaching position in Balochistan should be temporarily eased. Female graduates who have a Bachelor’s degree but might not necessarily have high marks should also be allowed to apply. Similarly, in the case of Balochistan, the test set up by NTS should also be revised so that more female candidates would be able to secure the necessary score to qualify for teaching posts.
A short-term solution to address the issue could also be to attract qualified female teachers to serve in remote areas by providing incentives such as additional financial benefits, access to affordable housing facilities, time-bound deployment to remote areas, and custom performance-based appraisals for teachers serving in hard areas.
Another useful short-term solution could be the recruitment of cluster-based temporary teachers to serve in remote areas coupled with flexibility in the academic criteria for such recruitments and robust professional development via teacher resource centers and mentors. Cluster funds could be used for hiring temporary teachers based on needs identified by schools in each cluster until the 18 months long formal recruitment process could be completed.
In the long-run, locally hired teachers who do not have the required minimum qualification should be offered accelerated custom-made teacher-training courses and opportunities to pursue higher education facilitated by the provincial government.