AFTER listening to the findings of CaPRI on our education system a few days ago, many teachers went into a reflective mood. As a teacher myself, I looked at the strategies used in the past and had to ask myself: "Did I contribute to this failure?" But from the report, I heard a bigger looming question: "Has Jamaica failed our boys?'
Over the years, many boys have not done well at sitting the external exams. However, there are others who have achieved mastery in the subjects of their choice and have continued to achieve greatly in their occupations. In comparative terms, females have done much better than our males at varying levels of education, but have there been local publications to identify what are the causes of this disparity?
Yes, there are! Graduate students of various universities have done their research on the matter and also many publications have been printed in journals. There have been discussions at various workshops and seminars. However, where are the innovative officers from the Ministry of Education? An innovative principal in region III has made the move to facilitate a gender separation at a junior grade. This resulted in the boys making good strides in academic achievement. This move was as a result of an action research done by a member of staff and upon seeing the benefits, the innovation is continuing.
The MOE is not only to be reactive but proactive to educational issues and constructively anticipate problems before they occur. It is my hope that after hearing the CaPRI report, especially on the poor academic performances of our boys, that the Ministry will seek to:
(1) Improve on the attitudes of teachers who marginalise boys by the way they are treated
(2) Separate the boys from the girls and alter the curriculum for the troubled boys if they are woefully underperforming. That way the boys will have a chance to motivate themselves with the aid of the "special teacher" who will positively challenge them to perform.
(3) Provide incentives for the boys throughout infant, primary, high school and college. Too many times the males in our society have been marginalised and labelled as worthless. Scholarships and awards are good tools to stimulate and maintain interest in becoming achievers and individuals of worth.
(4) Provide reputable church leaders and counsellors at schools to manage and maintain a mentorship and stewardship programme. Raising a nation of males without the spiritual development is a huge mistake in such a country as ours. Also, a nation without the spiritual and ethical components will get lost in emotional darkness.
The Education Ministry needs to constructively look at CaPRI's findings and act on the recommendations relevant to the situation at hand. I am sure after hearing of the award of a low grade given to our education system that those responsible must be asking some serious questions about the effectiveness of their stewardship in a developing nation.
We need to help our males become better leaders, role models and better managers of their family lives, and the best place to mould them after the home is school. We do have the affordable resources and the manpower to rescue our boys.