Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, Dr. Herbert Gayle, is calling for initiatives to prevent boys from dropping out of school.
He said research has found that boys who successfully complete their post-secondary-level education are up to 10 times less likely to fall prey to criminal activity than those who drop out before ninth grade.
The study focused on boys in Spanish town, Manchester and Montego Bay.
“[We found that] if they completed secondary school and sit at least three Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) subjects, they were four times less likely to be high-risk than the boys who dropped out at grade nine,” Dr. Gayle said.
“If the boy ever finishes CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination), he is 10 times safer than a boy who dropped out of school, and if you ever put your money behind this boy and support him and love him and sacrifice and get him into a college, he is 85 times safer than if he had dropped out of school,” he noted further.
“I am begging principals… and senior education officers… try and keep your boys in school, because when they drop out, the gangs cannot wait for them,” Dr. Gayle said.
He was addressing at a virtual empowerment seminar organised by the Anchovy High School in St. James on Tuesday (May 5), dubbed ‘Facing the Reality of the Social Issues Affecting Education’.
Dr. Gayle noted that Jamaicans have had a long history of sacrificing the education of boys when hardship hits homes.
He pointed out that women continue to outnumber men at the university level, and proposed that more all-boy secondary schools be built to help address the problem.
Meanwhile, Dr. Gayle is commending principals, in particular the recently formed Coalition of Principals in St. James (COPS), for their commitment to ensuring that students continue to receive a quality education.
For her part, Regional Director in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr. Michelle Pinnock, said that educators in region four have been working to address the social realities affecting students.
“I must big up my principals, guidance counsellors and teachers. They are going into the homes and they are finding out the realities [of] each child… so we are meeting persons according to their circumstances,” she said.
She noted that teachers are offering a greater sense of support to parents as children continue their lessons at home.