Gender balance in the classroom is critical to the overall health of the education sector. While female teachers have generally excelled in their roles as educators, space for male teachers can’t be overlooked. Children respond differently to male and female teachers and as such, children need both male and female role models in the classroom to excel.
Despite several Emiratisation programmes, experts are warning that the number of men entering teaching as a career is low. For some young men, as The National reported yesterday, teaching is passed up as a viable employment option because of the low salaries, the many responsibilities outside school hours and the perceived lack of promotion opportunities. While many Emirati families view teaching as a social good, the profession is not attracting enough male applicants. We need to think of creative ways to change this.
Thankfully, there are several measures that could help. Similar to the Teach for America programme in the United States, a Teach for the UAE programme could help break down stereotypes about the profession. Fresh university graduates could be enticed to teach in a classroom for one year, for example, with perhaps the possibility of a temporary deferment from national service. After the year is complete, some will surely decide to continue on as a teacher after the completion of military service, while others will have gained important experience from the process.
There are also positive aspects of the job that need to be better highlighted. A teacher can work anywhere in the country, even outside the big cities. Many schools in the northern Emirates are in need of male teachers, which is an attractive option if you are from one of those emirates and wish to stay closer to home.
The experience of teaching and playing a positive role in the next generation of the country is a powerful one. With more awareness about the experience of teaching, more male teachers will answer their calling for the profession.