Dr Shaaista Moosa graduated with a PhD in Education. Her research explored the need for male teachers within the Foundation Phase (FP) of schooling. She identified that in South Africa there was an underrepresentation of men as teachers of young children in FP schooling.
‘The country experiences many social difficulties which are often created, sustained and worsened by men, for example high levels of male violence, rape, HIV infection and father absence.
She believes that the participation of men within the FP of teaching as a step towards creating alternate, more caring and non-violent forms of masculinity in South Africa.
Her study provides insights into how FP is viewed as a feminised profession.
Her research found that the construction of FP teaching is seen as a mothering profession and as a ‘women’s job’. Moosa found that by ascribing to notions of men as violent sexual predators and children as vulnerable, primary school teachers in her study in turn conjured up feelings of apprehension about men teaching young children in the FP.
‘The notion that men being naturally prone to violence who would then be inclined to use corporal punishment on young FP children.
The significance of her study lies in the designing of suitable interventions to support men’s involvement as FP teachers in South Africa. ‘Working towards increasing men’s participation in FP teaching can facilitate a transformation in the type of connections between men and children. However an increase in male FP teachers who reproduce hegemonic versions of masculinity which serve to disempower women and girls does little to address gender inequalities in any given social setting,’ said Moosa.
Moosa will continue her research into men in the early years of teaching in South Africa by working on a joint research project with her PhD supervisor Professor Deevia Bhana. She plans on cascading her research findings to the Department of Education and to possibly work with them to design and implement suitable intervention strategies to encourage more men in South Africa to teach in FP.
She is hoping to design and implement ongoing support systems for men who do teach young children and run awareness campaigns that encourage boys and young men to be responsible for caring and teaching young children in FP.
The biggest highlight of her research was travelling to London in June last year to present a paper emanating from her PhD research at the Gender and Education Association conference held at Middlesex University. Moosa has also published two articles in two prestigious international journals.
Thanking her supervisor, family and friends, Moosa added, ‘Although I grew up in a very poor working class Indian family my mother always taught my brothers and I that it was only through education that we would be able to change our life circumstances. It is thanks to this very important life lesson that I have achieved so much and I am so thankful to her for instilling in me the importance of education and for always being my number one fan.’