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Meet 29-year-old Suwaiba Yunusa, the only female teacher at a primary school in Roni, Jigawa

29-year-old Suwaiba Yunusa is the only female teacher at Janbulo Islamiyya Primary School in Roni, Jigawa State.
“There aren’t many female teachers
in the state so we are fortunate to have even one.” says Headmaster Shaaibu Hassan. 
Some of the male teachers said that as as the only female member of
staff, Suwaiba is far more than just another teacher.

“When they know there is a female teacher in the school, parents are
easily convinced to send their girls to school,” says one teacher.

“When the girls see her coming sometimes they start chanting her
name. I think it’s because they are so happy to see someone who is like
them,” says another.

Speaking to the Global Partnership for Education, Suwaiba said:  “In our culture, it is inappropriate
for male teachers to help the older girls one on one; they are also
limited in their ability to discipline the older girls. But a female
teacher—like a mother—can discipline a child of any gender and any age. “
She is also on hand to deal with the expected challenges
that come up around older girls and menstruation that her male
colleagues only laughed nervously about. But Suwaiba recognizes that perhaps her most important function is as a role model.

“Growing up I had two women teachers. I remember thinking I wanted to
be like them. Now I am. So I know how important it is when the girls
come up to me and say, ‘When I grow up I want to be a teacher like you.”

“Last
year, I was so happy. There were two other
female teachers assigned to this school. We would work together to do
exercises with the children. We would meet between classes and talk
about whatever problems we faced in the classroom. This year, because
there are so few female teachers around, they
were transferred to other schools. Now, honestly, I don’t enjoy coming
to school anymore. I feel so lonely and isolated. The male teachers all
sit together and talk in the shade. Culturally, there is no way I can
sit and talk with them. And there is no staff room where I can go and
sit. So between classes I just wander here and there by myself with no
one to talk to. I am thinking about leaving. I told the headmaster that
if they can’t bring in another female teacher soon, I want to transfer
to another school”

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