Rural posting hits female teachers, Times of Zambia

Date: January 1, 1970
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A new policy by the Ministry of Education to post newly trained teachers to the rural areas to address the imbalance between urban and rural schools, impacts negatively on women.
A new policy by the Ministry of Education to post newly trained teachers to the rural areas to address the imbalance between urban and rural schools, impacts negatively on women.

This article may be used to:
  • Explore story angles and perspectives.
  • Discuss the importance of balance of sources.
  • Examines the use of language.
Trainer’s Notes
Sources and perspectives

Both women and men are sourced in this story – teachers, a female official from the ministry of education, and ordinary citizens calling in to a panel discussion.

The perspectives given by the male sources, including the author who is a male, in the column are:

  • Women cannot stand the hardships of the rural areas.
  • Women are incapable of taking care of themselves in harsh conditions.
  • Women alone in the rural areas are prone to gender violence and therefore need protection.
  • Women from the urban areas are used to comforts and luxuries and are spoilt. Therefore they cannot live without these comforts in the rural areas.
  • Women think of themselves first, before their duty to help children in the poorer-resourced rural schools.
  • Women are conniving and will do anything, including fake marriage, to get out of the posting to rural schools.
  • Women sent to rural schools are overlooked and do not receive promotions. They only are able to teach and supervise menial work, while the men are in decision-making positions.
The perspectives from the women sources who speak are:
  • It is difficult for female teachers to find a husband in the rural areas, while it is easier for men to find a wife because they can fit into the local community, or marry female students whom they get pregnant.
  • Women are taking up the challenge to teach in the rural areas.
  • Female teachers do use marriage as a means to move back to the urban areas.
Portrayal of Women

Female teachers are portrayed in this column as ‘unwilling’ or ‘too vulnerable’ to take up positions in the rural areas. The writer of the column even goes further to imply that women do not want to live in the rural areas because they will not have access to the luxuries and amenities of the urban centers. Since only one female teacher is sourced directly in the column, these opinions illustrate gender biases by men about whether women can take up teaching positions in the rural areas.

The article focuses on the role of women as wives. The central argument given in the story about their alleged refusal to be posted, or to ‘escape’ the rural areas once there, is the need to find a husband. The professional capabilities of the women are not mentioned in the story, and the voices and perspectives on women teachers in the rural areas who have found their jobs rewarding are not heard.

The story assumes that all the young women posted to the rural areas are single, or do not have any extended family commitments which may make it a difficult choice for them. It is implied that it is easier for men to move to the rural areas, but the article does not develop the gender relations which make it easier for men than women.


Women are described as ‘conniving’, ‘ plotters’, ‘sniveling’ and the writer goes further to say that female teachers should view themselves as ‘lucky’ to even have a job.

Training exercises
Exercise one: Sources and perspectives
Refer to the article and discuss the following:
  1. How many of the sources are women?
  2. How many are men?
  3. What are the different perspectives given by the women and the men on the posting of teachers to the rural areas?
Exercise two: Portrayal
  1. How are women portrayed in the article? Explain citing language used in the article.
  2. What gender issues are explored in this article?
  3. What stereotypes emerge from the portrayal of women?
  4. What is the overall tone and message of the article?  
Exercise three: Language
One phrase in the article describes women as: ‘sniveling young female teachers’.
  1. What is the effect of describing the teachers in this way?
  2. What is the intention?
  3. What stereotype about gender-appropriate behaviour does it draw on? How would male teachers who refuse to take up rural posts be described?
  4. Does this description increase or decrease sympathy for the teachers?
  5. Does this detail give you any insight into the reporter’s own values?

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