Supporting induction to the teaching profession for women in Malawi

Wolfenden, Freda (2014). Supporting induction to the teaching profession for women in Malawi. In: Proceedings of the 4th biennial International Conference on Distance Education and Teachers’ Training in Africa (DETA), DETA Conference procedings, Unit for Distance Education, University of Pretoria, pp. 171–196.



Gender parity in primary and secondary education has yet to be achieved in many countries in Sub Saharan Africa including Malawi. The presence of female teachers is recognised as one factor positively impacting on girls’ enrolment and learning success but in many rural areas in Malawi there are few qualified female teachers working in primary or secondary schools.

This paper contributes to the current debates on how to address this gap in qualified female teacher recruitment and retention in rural areas. We suggest one solution to break the cycle of low female achievement in rural areas is through use of distance education to prepare local women to take on teaching roles within their own communities. In the programme reported here aspiring female teachers are supported to take on the role of ‘learning assistants’ in their local community primary school whilst studying to achieve the qualifications necessary for application to a formal primary teacher training course.

Using applications, interviews and workshop data from the early stages of the programme, we explore the backgrounds and motivations of applicants to the programme and implications for the design of this distance learning programme, emerging constraints on the achievement of programme intentions and areas for further study.

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