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St George's boys not affected academically by girls' presence

Published:Wednesday | December 7, 2016 | 12:00 AM
St George’s College students celebrate winning of the FLOW Super Cup recently.

A decade after St George's College (StGC), a traditionally all-boys institution, commenced its sixth form co-educational programme, data show that the inclusion of girls has not negatively impacted the male population academically.

Then principal, Dr Fred Kennedy, said that the move to include girls followed an expansion of the school's sixth form.

A primary factor for the expansion was a plan by the school to take advantage of a proposal from the Ministry of Education that sixth forms could begin offering associate degrees so that students could get credits for tertiary educational institutions.


Public concerns


One of the concerns raised by students and other stakeholders when the move was announced in the summer of 2005 was that the inclusion of females might serve to hinder the focus and, perhaps, even taint the culture of the then 155-year-old institution.

However, over recent years, several subjects in both Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) units have returned favourable results.

Subjects that saw 100 per cent passes in Unit 1 are: accounting, art and design, computer science, French, information technology and management of business.

Similarly for Unit 2, subjects that received 100 per cent passes are: art and design, biology, chemistry, computer science, economics, French, information technology, law, physics and sociology.

Disciplines such as geography, history, communication studies and Caribbean studies also boast consistent pass rates upwards of 90 per cent.

"It was the norm to me. I interacted with the sixth-form girls a lot prior to actually entering sixth form. Either at the canteen or those that would have been assigned to monitor my form room. Also to and from school, whether on the bus or at the bus park, what may have changed was my sensitivity and listening skills", said Cory Samuels, a StGC alumnus.

Conversely, a female enrollee, who requested anonymity, disclosed: "It was different from what I had come to know over the years. I wasn't super social outside of school, so it was new. The feeling subsided by the first two or so months and the guys and I really formed a bond and, to date, some of them are my best set of friends."


Big change


Suzette Mullings-Douglas, vice-principal in charge of academics for the upper school, told The Gleaner: "There has been ups and downs, but StGC is still traditionally a boys' school."

She added: "Back then (in 2005), it was a big change, and people don't usually deal with changes of that magnitude well. The move was to strengthen the sixth-form programme for subjects like modern language and to assist in the performing arts. We still have a head boy, who is the leader of the student body. However, now we have a senior lady as well. A vast majority of the external CAPE awards we've gotten are from male students. What has been affected since then is the number of external boys that would be taken in."

Fifth-form students at StGC are given preference over external candidates to transition to sixth form.

Female students with no existing sixth-form programme at their school are also highly considered.

The institution offers an array of unique subjects at the CAPE level, namely, building and mechanical engineering drawing, electrical and electronic engineering technology and art and design.

The current sixth-form roster for StGC exceeds 200 students, approximately 60 of whom are females.