Gen­der gap in ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor still a ma­jor con­cern

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - An­dre.poyser@glean­erjm.com

LEC­TURER IN ed­u­ca­tional pol­icy, plan­ning, and lead­er­ship at the Univer­sity of the West Indies (UWI)-based School of Ed­u­ca­tion, Dr Canute Thomp­son, has raised con­cerns about the gen­der gap which per­sists in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

Thomp­son, who was re­spond­ing to data from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion which in­di­cate that fe­males make up 79 per cent of all teach­ers in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, said that “the low­er­ing of the es­teem with which males in so­ci­ety hold the teach­ing pro­fes­sion and the con­tin­ued in­abil­ity to at­tract the bright­est men and women to the teach­ing pro­fes­sion” are some of the con­se­quences which flow from the per­sis­tent gen­der gap in the class­room.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing that males would be more at­tracted to the ar­eas of math­e­mat­ics and science, Thomp­son did not agree that the chronic short­age of teach­ers for those sub­ject ar­eas can be at­trib­uted to the fact that fe­males dom­i­nate the pro­fes­sion.

“I am not aware of any ev­i­dence that would lead to that ques­tion be­ing an­swered in the af­fir­ma­tive, but doubt that this is the case,” he said in re­sponse to queries from The Gleaner.

The con­cept of the fem­i­ni­sa­tion of the teach­ing pro­fes­sion and the marginal­i­sa­tion of males in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem has been an on­go­ing aca­demic dis­cus­sion, first con­cep­tu­alised by Pro­fes­sor Errol Miller in 1986.

While Thomp­son does not agree that males are marginalised, he has called for tar­geted fund­ing to sup­port re­search and train­ing in ar­eas that are more at­trac­tive to boys, such as elec­tron­ics, auto me­chan­ics, civil engi­neer­ing and agri­cul­ture.

“This should in­volve the strength­en­ing of the STEM academies con­cept,” he said.

He fur­ther pro­posed an Data from Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion in­di­cate that fe­males make up 79 per cent of all teach­ers in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

in­crease in the num­ber of academies of ex­cel­lence with some ex­clu­sively for boys, the re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of male board­ing schools and the manda­tory mil­i­tary and skills train­ing for all boys who leave school and do not have the aca­demic or eco­nomic re­quire­ments and re­sources to go on to ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

MEA­SURES NEEDED

“It should be noted that at stu­dent en­rol­ment at the ear­ly­child­hood and pri­mary lev­els, we see boys edg­ing out girls by a nar­row mar­gin, ac­count­ing for 51 per cent of the 22,873 stu­dents

at the early-child­hood level ... and as stu­dents pro­ceed up the other lev­els, the num­ber of boys shrinks. This means that mea­sures to cater for them are needed,” he added.

In re­gard to school lead­er­ship, the cer­ti­fied lead­er­ship coach pointed out that the role of prin­ci­pals is piv­otal in the qual­ity of the per­for­mance of schools, but said he was not aware of any re­search that shows that the gen­der of the prin­ci­pal is a crit­i­cal de­ter­mi­nant in the per­for­mance of schools.

“At best, we have a mixed re­al­ity. There are some schools that are do­ing ex­tremely well

and that are headed by fe­males and others not so well that are headed by fe­males, and the same is true for schools headed by males. It would, how­ever, make for an in­ter­est­ing study to see whether gen­der is in fact a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in the per­for­mance of schools,” Thomp­son said.

The 2015 An­nual Sta­tis­ti­cal Re­view of the Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­tion, pub­lished by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, in­di­cates that fe­males com­prise 67 per cent of prin­ci­pals in in­fant, pri­mary and sec­ondary schools.

Dr Canute Thomp­son

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