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Stabroek News

Men wanted! - Male teachers needed to mentor boys
published: Monday | March 3, 2008

Tyrone Reid, Enterprise Reporter

Colin Blake, teacher at Polly Ground Primary School in St Catherine, has the full attention of his grade-six boys during class on May 31, 2005. In an effort to improve the performance of grade-six students, teachers at Polly Ground Primary have separated male and female students. - FIle

As the number of male teachers in the classroom decreases and boys continue to slip through the cracks, education experts are making yet another impassioned cry for more men to enter the profession.

According to the educators, the future of the nation's boys depends on it.

Laurel Brent-Harris, national literacy coordinator, Education Transformation Team, at the Ministry of Education, told The Gleaner that the ministry's research has revealed the absence of men today in the classroom continues to have an adverse effect on the men of tomorrow.

Number declining

"The decline in the number of male teachers has severely affected the education of boys. The boys need mentors, somebody to look up to," Brent-Harris explained.

She added: "The best way to make them recognise who they are is to have the male mentor."

Beverly Jobson-Grant, principal of Polly Ground Primary School in St Catherine, said she believes the Government should implement policies geared towards boosting males within the pro-fession.

"More men need to come into the profession. That is what I am pushing for," she stressed.

Dr Claude Packer, principal at the Mico University College, finds the situation worrying and said that if it is not addressed, the country will be in serious trouble.

Dr Packer pointed out that Mico's student population of approximately 1,000 is over-whelmingly female. "It is becoming almost all-woman," he said.

Troubling gender ratio

At present, the male-to-female ratio at the 173-year-old institution - which, at once stage in its history, admitted only men - is about five to one.

"It is a serious problem in the system - the nurturing of the boys. We need men to teach, we need men to mentor the boys," he said.

In addition, Dr Packer expressed that the dearth of male teachers in the profession is compounded by the fact that after completing their studies, some men opt not to go into the classroom.

He explained the university's plans to admit men with leadership qualities into an intensive one-year preliminary programme and then matriculate into the degree programme.

Dr Packer pointed out that the drive will be done for the school year that begins in September 2008. Already, he said, missives havebeen written to leaders in depressed areas asking them to make recommendations.

"We are targeting inner-city communities and we are going across Jamaica to attract men," he said.

While funding will be sought and attempts made to secure scholarships from the school's alumni, Dr Packer said the young men would still have to pay some fees.

"We are not waiting for them to apply, we are going to get them," he said.

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