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The CSEC Grade: Time for a change

Published:Monday | March 30, 2015 | 12:00 AMJermaine Francis
The recent Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate results show that the majority of the top-performing institutions are all-girl schools...
Allison Bowes
Doran Dixon
Ruel Reid
Donald Reece

Help our boys! 

Educators islandwide are clamouring for new and creative approaches to teaching that will capture the imagination of boys.

It's well known that females are far outperforming their male counterparts at almost every level of the education system and, backing that up.

The recent Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate results show that the majority of the top-performing institutions are all-girl schools.


Read full report: The CSEC Grade

Now, say the educators, is the time for a change in the way lessons are delivered.

Looking at the three-year average of the mathematics and English Language results, for the years 2012 to 2014, the latest Bill Johnson-commissioned analysis, which can be viewed in full in the Education 2020 supplement inside this edition of The Gleaner, indicates that the girls' schools are performing far better than the boys' schools in these core subjects.

The top performing school in both subjects is the St Andrew-based Campion College, while the all-female institutions - Immaculate Conception High, Wolmer's Girls', and St Andrew High - round out the top four for each subject area based on the quality of passes the schools received over the last three years.

In English, 11 of the top 20 best performing schools are all girls' schools with only Munro College and Wolmers' Boys', as male-only institutions, clinching spots in the top 20. The rest of the schools are coeducational institutions.

For mathematics, eight of the top 20 best performing schools in the subject are all-girls' schools, while only four of the all-boys' institutions have managed to crack the 20, with Wolmer's Boys' placing sevent overall and copping the title of the top performing male school in mathematics.

Experts say however, that regardless of the statistics, it is unfair for girls to be judged along the same lines as boys, as their learning styles are different and the current education system does not account for this glaring difference in learning capabilities.

Allison Bowes, acting principal of the St Andrew High School for Girls, noted that there needs to be some recognition that boys and girls learn differently and this must be applied to the delivery of lessons in the classrooms.

"We definitely need to change the ways we educate our boys. Our education system should recognise the differences between males and females. Education must take into consideration different intelligences," she explained, adding that the strategies used to teach the girls at St Andrew High should not be the same in a single-sex institution for boys.

Doran Dixon, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), shared a similar view, arguing that there is no getting around the fact that boys are different from girls and: "we really need to do some investigation in an effort to create some balance, as our boys are in need of urgent help".

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education announced a plan that it hopes will stem the perennial problems of girls outperforming boys.

Through partnerships with local institutions and international partners such as the University of the West Indies and USAID, the ministry is reportedly looking at the distribution of manuals and the retraining of educators to better deal with the differences in learning styles that some male and female pupils may demand.

However, Ruel Reid, principal of Jamaica College, told The Gleaner that there are several factors that would have to be considered when one attempts to look at the performances of girls versus that of boys.

Reid said the statistics are reflective of Jamaican culture and girls generally are given more educational support, both inside and outside homes and schools, and as a result: "the boys are at a disadvantage and this should be changed".

Currently there are some 14 all-girls schools and approximately seven all-male high schools and some of these all-male schools have started the process of opening their doors to facilitate female students, at least at the sixth-form level.

Donald Reece, chairman of the Ecumenical Education Committee, agreed that the problem of girls out performing boys goes far beyond the classrooms and "will require new and innovative methods that get students more involved in the learning process."

Banishing the idea that girls are naturally brighter than boys, Reece said that girls and boys have the same potential but they require different ways to harness it.

Referencing the number of males arrested in connection with lottery scamming in recent times, Reece said that as a country a solution must be sought to channel the skills and ingenuity of these young men into positive areas.

He explained that this will require the use of more technological and hands-on approaches to the teaching and learning experience if schools are to become an important factor in the lives of these male students.

Noting that there are not enough areas of interest within the current curriculum to interests males, Bowes explained that, "boys need to have the kind of curriculum that will tap into different areas and currently these avenues are few and sports should not be the only other option".