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  • Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says the Ministry is designing gender-specific instruction, aimed at improving the performance of boys who are lagging behind their female counterparts in academic achievement.
  • The Minister was speaking at an Educational Research Symposium, organised by The Mico University College at its Kingston campus, on July 29.
  • He noted that international partners in education have supported Jamaica to identify the scale of the problem “and analyse the issues to plan and undertake innovations and to create a forum for dialogue.”

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says the Ministry is designing gender-specific instruction, aimed at improving the performance of boys who are lagging behind their female counterparts in academic achievement.

“It is evident that boys’ underachievement in the education system is weighing heavily on national socio-economic development. Our boys are running 20 per cent behind girls – from grade four through grade six,” he said.

The Minister was speaking at an Educational Research Symposium, organised by The Mico University College at its Kingston campus, on July 29.

He noted that international partners in education have supported Jamaica to identify the scale of the problem “and analyse the issues to plan and undertake innovations and to create a forum for dialogue.”

On the issue of gender segregation in co-education institutions, Rev. Thwaites contended that this practice has proven helpful in improving the educational outcomes of boys.

“The affirmation of boys, the special recognition of their (developmental) needs is done in many different places and may be a useful way to achieve equalisation (in educational attainment),” he said.

He noted that many schools have experimented with various approaches, citing Allman Town Primary School, where the boys are separated from the girls in grade three, then brought back together in grade five.

“Some people say that’s wrong, but there has been significant improvement in this regard,” he said.

Meanwhile, in response to questions raised regarding the readiness of technical schools for the new school term, the Minister said while everything may not be in place now, the Ministry is working to be prepared for the start of the new school term.

He noted that Senator Wensworth Skeffery has done a survey on the needs of the technical schools, and that HEART Trust/NTA has allocated $35 million in order to make improvements in some of them.

Rev. Thwaites further encouraged schools to find innovative ways of making better use of the limited resources available to the education system.

“Our national situation cannot afford more than we are spending now and therefore what we have to do is look and see how we spend what we have. We have to use our education, not only to ask for state-of-the-art operations, but to see how we can get better dividends out of that which we now have,” he said.

The symposium, which was held under the theme: ‘Harnessing Information: Facilitating Educational Transformation’, was put on by the Graduate School of Education, Master of Arts in Teaching, Cohort 11.

Discussions centred around gender segregation of classes; Ministry of Education/National Education Inspectorate (NEI) procedures; accreditation; assessment and the suitability of current formats; and professionalism in the Jamaican education system.