Sun | Jun 20, 2021

Make targeted strategies to reclaim boys – educators

Published:Saturday | May 8, 2021 | 12:17 AMChristopher Thomas /Gleaner Writer
Linvern Wright
Linvern Wright

WESTERN BUREAU:

The Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA) and the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (JAPSS) are of the view that special efforts must be made to reclaim boys who are among the 120,000 students that the Ministry of Education says have been missing from school since last year.

In an interview with The Gleaner yesterday, JISA’s President Dr Faithlyn Wilson said that specialised strategies were needed to target male students who were not attending school for reasons that include lack of interest.

“We need to drill down into the 120,000 students to see where the boys are, and I think we need to have a targeted strategy for boys. Our boys would be more at risk for deviant behaviour, so it means that, whatever strategy we employ to help students in general, we need to have a targeted strategy for boys, and I do not think one size will fit all,” said Wilson.

“I have had two recent experiences where boys were assessed to join the special literacy programme at my school, and while the parents tried as hard as they could, the boys just would not turn up. They have been out of school for one year and it is going to be difficult to get them back in,” added Wilson, who is principal of El Instituto de Mandevilla Preparatory School in Manchester.

Wilson’s recommendation mirrors social anthropology lecturer Dr Herbert Gayle’s assessment at a town-hall empowerment seminar on Tuesday, where he noted that boys who left school with CSEC and CAPE passes were 10 times less likely to become high-risk crime statistics than those who drop out before the ninth grade.

Meanwhile, JAPSS President Linvern Wright suggested that in developing strategies to help male students consideration should be given to their varying social backgrounds.

“The social background of students is what really determines whether or not they come to school on time or come regularly, and whether they get involved in crime or not. There are many boys who do not attend school and yet they do not get involved in crime, and so we have to work with all the variables together,” said Wright, who is principal of the William Knibb Memorial High School in Trelawny.

During Wednesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Education Minister Fayval Williams revealed that 120,000 students have not had any kind of classroom engagement over the past year, with reasons ranging from illness, to suspension of classes, to lack of Internet service for online learning.

Jamaica Teachers’ Association President Jasford Gabriel subsequently suggested that it would take between two and three years to reverse most of the learning loss suffered by students since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.