Feminisation of Primary Schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa


Currently, 72,110 (45,525 male and 26,585 female) teachers are serving in 23,000 primary schools in KP. Will the quality of education in KP improve with the inclusion of more “misses” than “sirs” in schools?


The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has approved the Elementary and Secondary Education Department’s proposal that only female teachers will be hired in the public sector primary schools across the province. Henceforth, only women will be hired on new vacancies for primary schoolteachers. The proposal has been defended and cemented with many irrational arguments i.e.:

(a) “In all developed countries mostly women teach at the primary level,”

(b) “Psychologically, children feel more comfortable with a woman than with a man, (c) female teachers teach better than male teachers”,

(d) “Women provide a more caring and loving environment,”

(e) “Children’s interest in school increases when women are their teachers” etc.

It is true that more than 80 percent of school teachers in the technologically advanced countries (i.e.: American, United Kingdom, Denmark, Canada etc) are women. In most countries in North America, South America, Europe, and in much of Asia and the South Pacific, women constitute up to 80 percent of the primary school teaching. I agree, therefore, with the argument that women’s predominance in school teaching is to be found in most countries throughout the world.

I must however stress that the policy makers in KP they be vigilante and must keep their eyes wide open to know that the predominance of women in school teaching in the West is a highly contested and debated issue. They must also know that it has been for the last 100 years and therefore may not be used as argument and basis for the school reform in KP. Those who preach in favour of feminising school teaching in KP therefore should know the historical context of why one would find more women than men in school teaching.

Let me briefly introduce the policy makers with the actual phenomena.

It was with the industrial revolution in the West when men engaged in other jobs which carried more prestige, salary and power than school teaching, that they left school teaching and nursing as the only options available to educated women of that time. There was and still exists an ideological link between women’s traditionally domestic role and their careers as school teachers. The reason for that is that taking care of younger children in school is traditionally seen as an “extension” of motherhood.  Similarly, the hegemonic traditions and culture of society oblige women to accept positions in teaching as these teaching jobs are between breakfast and lunch hours – the same timing as when children are in school. School teaching was and still is one of the few socially acceptable careers for middle class women because teaching could thus be considered an extension of women’s domestic role. In short it, was a soft option.

Thus, from a feminist point of view, women have been pushed to a low status and low paid job in the public domain. So feminists in the KP should not celebrate it but should see it with the critical lens it deserves to be viewed by.

Broadly speaking, I deem it pertinent to mention here that the absence of men in school teaching in the West has created many crises. In all developed countries, girls are out- performing boys in education. Academics, policy makers and government officials are pondering on the issue of the “Boys Crisis”. Many research studies have revealed that the boys’ underperformance and girls out-performance in education is due to the absence of male teachers in schools. They also argue that this means that boys do not have role models in schools.  UCAS’ CEO, Mary Curnock Cook, on the basis of research in the UK, claimed that boys learned better when they had male role-models in the classroom. Cook also argued that the imbalance (85 % females and 15 % males) in school teaching does have a negative effect on educational standards.

As a result, keeping the negative impact of women predominance in school teaching, governments in the West have started projects and incentive to motivate men to join schools teaching (See OECD reports). In the UK different projects and campaigns, (i.e.: the University of East Anglia and Bath Spa, the Bristol Men in Early Years Network etc) are working to attract more men into school teaching so that they can create a balance in the academic achievements of boys and girls. The rest of world’s developed countries are also trying to motivate men into school teaching. I am wondering why, despite the existence of examples of such vivid failure of the feminisation of the school teaching model in the West, the KP government continues to see logic and rational in the acceptance of this proposal. We should learn from the West’s experience and should create a more balanced team of female and male school teachers so that girls and boys equally perform better and avoid both the “girl’s crisis” or the “boy crisis”

As a sociologist I believe that the government has been deceived by its imported consultants who have been enjoying Pearl Continental Hotel Peshawar for the last so many months. If this plan is implemented, it will not be a sweeping statement and prophesy that the KP government will hire foreign consultants and will spend millions of rupees on them to make plan to motivate men to join school teaching as happening in the West.

The introduction of 100% female teachers in schools is not a wise decision. The KP government must take into account many ground realities before implementing this plan. Questions such as

  • Do we have qualified trained women, especially in the rural areas, to teach in schools?
  • Are women trained in the new curriculum?
  • Does our socio-cultural context similar to that of the West that we use the western society as model for our policy?


I am not saying that women are less competent than men. Rather I am trying to raise my voice that we should recruit and appoint good teachers at the school level and should create a balance in male and female teachers in lines with the socio-cultural context of KP. We should appoint more and more qualified females in school but should continue male as school teachers.

As a sociologist researching and working with education, I must say that we should look into our own historical and cultural context and our ground realities and should make policy as per our need instead of adopting the UK or USA models. They have their social context and we have our social context. Our policy should be based on our indigenous research in which the key stakeholder should of District Education Officers.



  1. As a sociologist, perhaps you are mentally blind to the fact that very low percentage of women are in employment in Pakistan, where culture has down graded them to the position of house wives and baby producing machines. It is a welcome blessing that KP government has decided to increase women in employment in nursery schools, and do the same in nursing profession.

    • @Riaz Ahmed- where did you pull the statistics out of? Also degraded- is not the right term as being house wives has always been the norm in all societies, there is no evidence female teachers bring any more blessings than male teachers. Culture has never made women baby producing machines- it’s their sex. Also no women are not exclusive kept around for babies.

      My baby sister has all female staff at school- and I realize how degraded her education is when I sit down to help her with her homework.

      As an average person with brain cells to rub, I think you’re mentally blind yourself.

  2. This is plain sex discrimination- wtf. Can we get rid of female medical students too then? Cause there is trend of getting degree to marry up.

Comments are closed.