MPs ignore Mico’s plea for help to increase male teachers in the classrooms
A proposal by principal of The Mico University College, Dr Ashburn Pinnock, for each member of parliament to sponsor a male student to the college's teaching degree programme, in an effort to increase the number of men in Jamaica's classrooms, has been ignored by the majority of the parliamentarians.
"I am not here knocking anybody, but it appears the letters may have gone out the wrong time or something, because the response has been disappointing. Some have not responded, while a few have responded to say that they have no funding for such a programme," Pinnock told The Sunday Gleaner.
"But there is such a need out there," bemoaned Pinnock, as he noted that the male-female ratio in the teaching cohort at Mico is usually about 70/30 and in recent times 75/25.
Pinnock said wanting to tackle that issue, he decided to reach out to the elected representatives, and other leading members of the society.
"Last year, we sent out letters to every single constituency in this country, every member of parliament, and we asked them if they could sponsor one male. We thought that they could find one unattached male to sponsor to send to us. And we thought we could get a cohort of 63.
"If they could do that every year, can you imagine the impact on the country, on the school system, on mentorship programmes for boys in schools? But I was very disappointed in the response. One person responded, but I don't think it was a member of parliament," Pinnock told The Sunday Gleaner.
He said the request was made under a scheme dubbed the 'Pre-University Men's Programme' (PUMP), which was started several years ago under the late former principal, Dr Claude Packer.
"It was born out of the recognition that the classroom was not attractive to men, and we know that there was a deficit in mentorship for the boys. PUMP targets males who did not matriculate to teachers' college, or who matriculated but were unable to afford the fees. Those who did not matriculate are admitted to the institution and taken through a preliminary year.
"We provide them with some content material to get them qualified. We were not shifting the standard to suit them, we were moving them up to standard to matriculate. We also provide them with some professional and personal development and put them through some areas that would suit them for college life," said Pinnock.
After the preliminary year, they would move into programmes which would qualify them to teach at the primary or secondary level.
The Mico principal said the mathematics, science and technical and vocational programme the college introduced some years ago proved attractive to men and was largely responsible for any increase in the male population at the institution.
He charged that too much "lip service" has been paid to education over the years, and argued that Jamaica must begin to invest in the young men, male education and education in general.
"If we get 20 unattached males that could be 20 lives we would have saved. And can you imagine the multiplier effect if we start increasing number that each year? That would be such a joy," said Pinnock.
The comments from the Mico principal came hours before Opposition leader and president of the People's National Party, Dr Peter Phillips, argued that there needs to be more men in the classrooms as one of the measures to improve the performance of Jamaican boys.
"This is no disrespect to anyone, but what is happening is that males are leaving the classroom, and part of what has happened to our young men is the absence of male role models," said Phillips as he addressed students at Camperdown High School.