Tue | Sep 18, 2018

Our boys need help

Published:Wednesday | November 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM


How much longer shall our boys continue to suffer? Two years? Five? Always? One can easily identify examples of neglect of our boys. In our everyday conversations about rights, freedom and gender issues, males are often omitted. Who stands up for our boys when they meet up with Goliaths like Carolyn Cooper, and feminists who seek to do nothing but trample upon their already fragile existence? Who stands up for our boys when an unforgiving education system confuses them and discards them to the fringes of society?

Our education system and the wider society have failed our boys.

Our education system presents an advantage to girls and a disadvantage to boys. Our boys are not interested in school. Other things interest them. Our boys believe that school is for girls; whether they say it openly or not, it is the reality. So if school is for girls, where is for boys? Where do 'boys' stuff' take place? Perhaps in gangs and prisons? Gloomy thought, isn't it?

Dismal Future

The future for our boys is probably more dismal than we realise. These boys do not exist in a vacuum. What is bad for them is ultimately bad for society. If the problems affecting our boys were to be corrected today, it would probably take 15 to 25 years before society starts experiencing the benefits. However, if we truly believe that education is the key to upward mobility and if the society wants good sons, husbands, brothers and co-workers, then there are practical things stakeholders can do right now to intervene without disadvantaging girls.

There is a miniscule number of males teaching in our education system. There are so many schools across the island with fewer than five male teachers on staff. Across the country, there are only 5,000 male teachers and a whopping 20,000 female teachers. Who do our young boys identify with?

So even though more males enter the early-childhood education system on a yearly basis, there is a sustained gap between the number of females being enrolled at the highest level of education - the tertiary level - as with the case in the 2011-2012 period where of the 44,330 students enrolled, only 14,529 were males and 29, 801 female. This is a difference of 15, 272. Similarly, in the 2012-2013 period, even though there was a decrease in the enrolment figures, the margin remained consistent at 14, 068. If we are serious about addressing this issue, there has to be an injection of more males into the education system. Along with that, there needs to be an islandwide five-year mentorship programme for our boys in schools, with mentors being accomplished career men who will be visible role models for our boys.

Victimised in Schools

The next issue to address is the general lack of acceptance of boys in school, in plain sight and behind their backs. If you had a female teacher growing up, you would have been thoroughly sensitised to the notion that girls are good and boys are bad. Truth is, our female teachers and sometimes-confused male teachers need to cut our boys some slack. Male teachers do not know what being a girl is like and will never know. Similarly, female teachers have no idea what being a boy is like. If a boy exhibits playful behaviour in class, nine out of 10 times, he is either ridiculed or disciplined. Many teachers across the country are guilty of awarding grades based on behaviour rather than academic performance. This demoralises our boys and dispirits them. This general disapproval of them must stop. In their staff rooms, too many of our teachers are rejoicing at the small number of boys they have in their classes.

The education system doesn't exist to provide good paying jobs for teachers, it exists to enable children to maximise their potential. This education system, we must admit, does not allow our boys to maximise their full potential. We must fix it!

Romaro Scott