KINGSTON — Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Grace McLean, says the Ministry is putting measures in place to improve the achievement of males, as part of the education transformation thrust.
"The scale of underachievement points to the need for systemic changes in the way that education is planned and delivered. The need to raise the achievement of our boys in the system is critical as we seek to pursue the transformation agenda," she stated.
Mrs. McLean was addressing a workshop on ‘Male Achievement in Jamaica: Meeting the Challenges of Education for All’ held on July 7, 2011, at the Mona Visitors Lodge on the University of the West Indies’ campus.
According to the Chief Education Officer, the poor performance of boys is “weighing heavily” on national and socio-economic development.
"The Ministry of Education acknowledges that in order for us to realise our 2030 Vision, it becomes very important for us to start training our boys so that they can have that mindset, that will and that dedication and commitment that is required for them to take their rightful places in this society," she stated.
She noted that the issue of the scarcity of male teachers at all levels of the education system remains an unresolved challenge. “I have visited many schools, especially at the primary level, and you have to search to find a male teacher among the ladies and it is indeed frightening,” she said.
She pointed out however, that there is no conclusive research in Jamaica that points to a direct relationship between female teachers and the achievement of boys, noting that, in fact, the boys’ schools have a high proportion of female teachers and they continue to do well.
Mrs. McLean noted that the issue of the education of boys undoubtedly multifaceted and complex and its resolution will require participation and commitment from all stakeholders.
Programme Officer for Education at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Hipolina Joseph, stated that under achievement of boys was a regional issue, which has consistently occupied the minds of educators, policy makers, academics, and parents in the Caribbean for a long time.
“This is a complex multi-dimensional problem, which requires a multi-dimensional, multi-sectoral approach encompassing the educational, social, moral, economic and political intervention by the public and private sectors,” she noted.
The one-day workshop, organised by the Education Ministry and the Commonwealth Secretariat, saw stakeholders in the sector coming together to share experience and exchange knowledge on the education of boys and prepare an action plan for the introduction of strategies that will substantially raise achievement levels.
Participants included teachers, principals, and education officers from the regions, Ministry officials, representatives of teacher training institutions and partner agencies, parents and students.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter