Why female teachers are needed for developing young children

Women in Education

I believe that teachers play a very important role in helping every child reach their fullest potential. Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey, a Ghanian teacher, once shared, “If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.” Females have also been at the forefront of teaching. Step into many classrooms and you will find female teachers at the white board. 
Men used to be the sole bread winners during the 1920s. Fast forward to today. According to a blog written for International Women’s Day here in Singapore, this trend has transformed by leaps and bounds.

Singapore was fortunate enough to witness a significant increase in literacy from about 35% to about 94% within a span of 53 years. Education is seen as a staple for children and the government has put a lot of emphasis in Primary and Secondary School education. Women have been stepping out of the household and moved on to varied roles in the industries. Many of these women are now educators, teaching in various classroom settings. 

Females in early education 

Have we wondered why female teachers are the majority who helm lower primary and kindergarten education? We might have taken this for granted: the individuals responsible for learning in young children are women. Here are the stats. Females represent an estimated 72% of all formal education (as a teacher, vice-principal, principal). In fact, evidence has shown that females who have joined the education system below the age of 25, remain longer in the workforce.

Here are my thoughts on why female teachers make much of a difference. 

  1. By remaining longer in the workforce, female teachers are able to be more well-versed in that particular field of study. Therefore, they will have an edge in terms of practical experiences. Hence, they are able to impart more in-depth knowledge. 
  2. With experience comes wisdom. Students can seek advice or ask for guidance from their female teachers. Although the median pay may not compensate for the amount of time and effort they put into teaching, they are still so willing to remain in the sector purely for the passion. 
  3. In my opinion, women teachers teach with hard work and “heart” work. Investing countless hours into educating the next generation is insufficient. Teaching students in a genuine manner will motivate students  to perform better with a strong emotional support in their educational system.
  4. The presence of women in schools can also positively inspire girls to pursue more male-dominated careers such as engineering or mathematics. I remembered a friend sharing how her civil engineering senior lecturer was a lady. She was surprised at how familiar and knowledgeable she was in the field. Her lecturer was even open to share about the workplace discrimination she faced due to her gender. This can be very empowering for aspiring female blue collared workers who wish to pursue an occupation which may not be highly populated with females. As such, female role models can share their experiences and encourage the next generation to reach their fullest potential as living testimonies of successes.

My passion for teaching as a female 

I am one of the teachers at Writers Studio. The centre has a good blend of male and female teachers. Helmed by Teacher Carean Oh Writers Studio, the centre has plenty of influences painted by her hands. As a teacher, a boss, a wife and a mother, Carean Oh Writers Studio has inspired us to be dedicated, considerate and conscientious of our efforts. This is especially so when there are young minds to nurture. 

Like her, I have learnt that women can lead a community. She truly leads by example in reaching out to her students after class and going the extra mile by or asking how they are. The students at Writers Studio are often shy about their aspirations. I remembered holding a creative writing class and a student was sharing how she wanted to be a teacher when she grew up after sitting through my lesson. It was a refreshing and encouraging comment for me after a week-long creative writing course.

The doe-eyed girl shared how she felt inspired by my energy for the lesson. “Teacher Serena, you asked about my hobby. You asked about what I like to read,” she said. Yes, I took time to get to know them personally, and this is not just limited to their academic needs.This made me realise that no matter how short a time we spend with the students, they are actually very observant of the teacher’s sincerity and authenticity in her pursuit. As an aspiring educator, I am grateful for the platform given to me by Carean Oh Writers Studio through Public speaking or Creative Writing classes to be a positive influence for the younger children.

I would certainly encourage more young women to come on board and lead as a teacher. It may not be the most glamorous job, and you might have to struggle between work and family life at times but the hearts you touch will be well worth it.

Teacher Serena Ng is a graduate of psychology with a first class honours degree. She is currently hoping to pursue her Masters in Occupational Therapy. She shares her passion for teaching and voices her opinions on how important it is for females to light up the world of education for generations to come.

- Carean Oh

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