Is the Ed­u­ca­tion Sys­tem Giv­ing Boys a Fair Chance?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Ipre­fer to re­main anony­mous – un­known. As a teacher I see my role as one of self­sac­ri­fice. Like a scor­pion that gives its life and body to en­sure the sur­vival of its young. That scor­pion re­mains anony­mous … even to the ones it made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice for. Reg­u­larly, I would try to in­spire my stu­dents to be ini­tia­tors of change. To be will­ing to think dif­fer­ently – to be will­ing to chal­lenge “author­ity” and to seek change. I sup­pose in some way I made sure of a kind of safety for my­self – for if they go about mak­ing the changes then I re­main safe in the back some­where. Yet I find my­self speak­ing out about a mat­ter which is sure to cause con­tro­versy and po­ten­tially land me in an­other black book some­where. But I must! I have waited long enough for a cham­pion and none has emerged.

Sec­ondary schools must bear some re­spon­si­bil­ity for the spate of crimes com­mit­ted by our young men. To put it suc­cinct – our schools are fail­ing our young men … mis­er­ably! The spate of crimes is no co­in­ci­dence. I am of the view that we are some­where just past the be­gin­nings. Things are go­ing to get worse, much, much worse. Our boys have to be treated more fairly by the school sys­tem. They must be guided to be­come the lead­ers, fa­thers, hus­bands and role mod­els that so­ci­ety needs. But how can our boys do that when it seems that the en­tire sys­tem is against them! While there is univer­sal sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion, from the 2006/2007 aca­demic year, our boys do not stand a fair chance of get­ting into the best schools. Through no fault of theirs, boys sim­ply can­not com­pete with girls at the com­mon en­trance ages of 10, 11 and 12. It sim­ply can­not hap­pen. It is a bi­o­log­i­cal im­pos­si­bil­ity. To prove my point one would re­al­ize that boys do not out­per­form girls at The Com­mon En­trance Ex­am­i­na­tions. Never! A fair-dice sta­tis­ti­cal im­pos­si­bil­ity. Yet the Com­mon En­trance Ex­am­i­na­tion is used to stream stu­dents into the na­tion’s sec­ondary schools. And of course girls get into the best schools.

It is be­lieved, with good rea­son, that the best schools have the best re­sources, the best school plants the best ethos in so­ci­ety even the best parental sup­port, the low­est turnover rate of teach­ers and so on. Some even think they have the best plots of land. As one moves down the rank of schools, be­gin­ning with the Saint Joseph Col­lege, noted as the top school, we rec­og­nize that the na­tion’s boys form in­creas­ingly higher pop­u­la­tions of the lower ranked schools. And even in those schools, an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of lead­er­ship po­si­tions are held by girls. So what are we do­ing to our boys? We put them at an un­fair and dis­ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tion at age 11, then we place them into schools not rec­og­nized as the best, and even in those schools they are largely out of the pos­i­tive lime­light. Do we be­lieve that they will then be model cit­i­zens? I do not see how that is pos­si­ble!

We need to pro­vide boys with bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth, de­vel­op­ment and es­sen­tially trans­for­ma­tion into the pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens we want them to be. More has to be done for boys. Ef­forts at chang­ing them must be more strate­gic, in­tense and quite dif­fer­ent to ef­forts geared to­wards mak­ing girls into pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens. That change must be most pro­nounced in re­la­tion to Com­mon En­trance Ex­am­i­na­tions – where cur­rently the big­gest in­jus­tice lies. A con­ver­sa­tion, geared at pro­vid­ing boys with a fair op­por­tu­nity to be truly ed­u­cated, must com­mence. Whether we con­sider an­other sec­ondary school … or two, sim­i­lar to the model of Saint Mary’s Col­lege, or pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion at sec­ondary schools whereby 50 per­cent of new en­trants are boys, the needs of boys must be met. Oth­er­wise I fear that we will con­tinue to reap ex­actly what we sow – in­creas­ing crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity per­pet­u­ated by young men.

As we cel­e­brate In­ter­na­tional Men’s day to­day, can we truly say our boys are in good hands?

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