JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Education will be training 40 persons who will, in turn, train classroom teachers in the differences in how boys and girls learn and the strategies that can be implemented to close the gender achievement gap.
  • This decision follows the Ministry’s participation in a conference about how boys learn, hosted by the Gurian Institute in Denver, Colorado, in July this year.
  • The American association is managed by the famous brain-based researcher and author, Dr. Michael Gurian and his colleague, Dakota Hoyt.

The Ministry of Education will be training 40 persons who will, in turn, train classroom teachers in the differences in how boys and girls learn and the strategies that can be implemented to close the gender achievement gap.

This decision follows the Ministry’s participation in a conference about how boys learn, hosted by the Gurian Institute in Denver, Colorado, in July this year. The American association is managed by the famous brain-based researcher and author, Dr. Michael Gurian and his colleague, Dakota Hoyt.

National Numeracy Coordinator, Dr. Andre Hill, who was in attendance, said the conference allowed for “a more fulsome appreciation” of the scientific data on the differences in the brain function and anatomy of boys and its impact the way they learn in the classroom.

“Starting later this year, we want to train a set of ‘trainers of trainers’ in the basic principles of brain-based research as shared with us by the Gurian Institute; the differences in terms of how boys and girls learn as well as strategies that can be employed in the regular classroom and also by parents, because we are going to be targeting both teachers and parents,” he said.

At least two teachers from each school will be trained across the six regions. These teachers will then be responsible for the training of their colleagues.

“Teachers and other stakeholders, including parents, need to have a greater appreciation of the very real differences, so that learning activities can be better organised to meet the needs of both boys and girls,” Dr. Hill said.

He also noted that the Ministry of Education is looking into possible policies that can be developed for gender-based learning, to be informed by the data coming out of the conference, as well as by research being done by the Jamaica Teaching Council (JTC) and the University of the West Indies.

Dr. Hill pointed out that girls have always outperformed boys in the history of the Grade Four Literacy Test.

Despite marked improvement by the boys in last year’s sitting of the test, with 80.3 per cent of boys achieving Mastery, up from 68.6 per cent the previous year, girls were still ahead by 12.2 per cent.

“The realities are there, so the Ministry is now embarking on strategic plans to better address the ways in which boys and girls are taught in the formal education system, hoping of course to narrow the gender gap in performance as a result,” he said.

Dr. Hill said that brain-based research indicates that a female brain develops faster than that of a male, particularly in the area of language, with girls developing language skills at least one and half years earlier than boys.

“What we want to ensure is that teachers and policy-makers understand that this is what the scientific research says and that the implications are great, and that this, to some extent, explains why boys have continued to lag behind girls in the formal education system, in terms of their academic performance,” he added.