Gender must influence learning

Published: Wednesday | December 4, 2013 Comments 0

Kimberly Carr, Guest Columnist

I agree with Esther Tyson's column, 'Values, standards and education', published in The Gleaner on November 24, 2013, in which she supported the notion that we need to change our culture to one where education is seen as important and beneficial.

We also need to engage the media, the entertainment industry and private sector to develop visual and audio promotions of healthy parenting habits and fostering proper socialisation. Undoubtedly, education is the passport for a better life.

Our primary goal, as human beings, is to be successful in climbing the social ranks of life. Noting the challenges teachers face in dealing with the psychological, emotional, social and spiritual problems of our children.

I agree with Esther Tyson's stance that children do not know how to socially adapt to situations that require them to practise self-control and take instructions from persons in authority. This indicates a lack of parenting.

Noting this, the school is really our children's only hope of proper socialisation. Part of the solution is a revision of the curriculum; we need to structure it in a way that students learn about their gender roles, identity, sexuality and personal life that will impact the choices they make.

Gender gives important meanings to our lives, and students need to understand critical issues that impact on their attitude, behaviour and overall development.

sensitising educators

The Institute for Gender and Develop-ment Studies (IGDS) is a multi-disciplinary entity of the University of the West Indies (UWI), and is engaged in teaching, research, outreach and publication on issues relating to women, men/masculinities and gender.

In its outreach activities, IGDS embraces institutions and organisations at all levels throughout the region, sensitising educators, policymakers and the general public and providing strategies to enhance awareness of the critical role played by the study of gender in personal life and national development.

I suggest that the Ministry of Education partner with IGDS to start sensitising the importance of education from a gendered perspective.

Gender mainstreaming is critical in the resocialisation process of our children today. This is one of the most effective means of ensuring that boys and girls can benefit from development efforts.

From an early age, children start facing norms that define 'masculine' and 'feminine'. Boys are taught to be aggressive, rough and to assert their manhood through early sexual activities. Girls, on the other hand, are taught to be soft, nurturing and participate in raunchy behaviours to assert their femininity.

These gender roles and expectations have serious ramifications which are now evident in society. The situation at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre, the vulgar Maggotty High video, and the prevalence of teenage pregnancy speak for themselves. Children live what they learn and are a product of the gendered reality that exists.

Kimberly Carr is a research assistant at the UWI, Mona. Email feedback to and

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