by Luke Douglas
EDUCATORS are being urged to incorporate the experiences of boys outside of school into to the classroom, and to give boys more space to express themselves without reprimand as ways to improve their performance in the education system.
Participants at a one-day workshop tackled the complex problem of male underachievement in education Thursday, agreeing that it requires a multifaceted approach to address.
But despite the efforts, as long as the pay in female dominated occupations such as nursing and early childhood education is low, more men will not be attracted to tertiary education, participants suggested.
Scores of teachers, administrators, guidance counsellors took part in the workshop under the theme ‘Male Achievement in Jamaica – Meeting the Challenges for All’ held by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge at the University of the West Indies yesterday.
Dr Winsome Gordon of the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) making a presentation on behalf of the JTC‘s early childhood education specialist said research shows that boys learn differently than girls, for example boys like to work in groups and make up their own games and toys unlike girls who may play alone and like standard toys such as dolls.
Dr Gordon said whereas girls tend to master language more easily, conformed more in school and learned about quantities, boys were often more “street smart”, more restless and curious and learned to handle money more readily than girls.
“We need to build on the experiences that the children bring into the schools. Identify the learning experiences of children and transform those experiences into the formal education system,” Dr Gordon said.
Professor Mark Figueroa, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at UWI, Mona, said underachievement of males was a problem of the gender system in which some professions were seen as the domain of women as such were poorly compensated.
“In relation to qualification-based professions, women will continue to outperform men, unless the males go into fields dominated by women. That can only happen if we revalue what women do,” he stated.
Sharon Neil, deputy chief education officer with responsibility for curriculum and support services in the Ministry of Education showed that girls outperform boys at every stage in the primary and secondary education system.
Neil noted however that of students passing five or more subjects in the school leaving Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exam, 64 per cent of boys passed both mathematics and English, compared with 56 per cent of girls.
In her greetings chief education officer in the Ministry of Education Grace McLean called on male teachers to let their voices be heard in ensuring their recommendations on the problem are expressed.
Hipolina Joseph, education programme officer for the Commonwealth Secretariat which partnered with the Ministry of Education in staging the conference warned that male underachievement in education is detrimental to economic development and “could lead to a generation of lost Caribbean men.”