Symposium explores underachievement of boys in education system

1st July, 2018 0 comments

The University of Guyana (UG) on Thursday launched a two-day symposium aimed at developing approaches to address the underperformance of boys in the education system.

The Symposium on Boys’ Education, organised under the theme “Bridging the Gender Divide: Stemming the Tide of Male Underachievement in the Education System,” was held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, The Commonwealth of Learning, UNICEF and CARICOM.

It precedes and will inform a project action planning workshop, which is to be held in the coming week, and which will involve the participation of education officers, and other representatives from both governmental and non-governmental agencies. The workshop will identify activities to address issues affecting boys.

“To date, we have not developed a strategic approach for the education system in Guyana. With every passing day, boys continue to slip further behind, curtailing their potential to contribute effectively to society. For these and other relevant reasons, the Faculty of Education is hosting a Symposium on Boys’ Education to identify ways of addressing this issue,” the university explained in a brochure.

It was further stated that the initiative is in keeping with efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goal #4, which aims to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Dr Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary General, Human and Social Development at CARICOM, stated that the discussions at the symposium would held to provide further insight into the “nature of gender in education in the CARICOM region.” He said that this information will hopefully be used to inform educational policies, transform pedagogical practices and drive professional development. He stated that solving the issue of male underachievement is critical for the success of Caribbean nations as it relates to the CARICOM Human Resource Development Strategy 2030.

“This symposium does provide an opportunity to bring together thought leaders, practitioners, academicians, researchers, from diverse disciplines from within and across the Caribbean so that they can connect in a Guyanese space—and I’m stressing that—to share and discuss ideas and innovations and practices. Ideas and innovations that hopefully elevate boys’ experience of school and schooling and by extension, improve learning outcomes and life challenges,” Dr Mairette Newman, representative of The Commonwealth of Learning, stated during her presentation at the launch.

Dr Newman referenced three notable statistics that shed light on the reality of the gender inequality in education: The fact that the gender gap in literacy widens as the ascension is made to higher grade levels, with boys dominating at lower proficiency levels, while girls dominate at higher proficiency levels; that girls outperform boys in many subject areas and are also more likely to remain in school; and that girls are more likely than boys to transition to tertiary education levels.

She pointed to underlying trends that have been identified, including the diminishing presence on men in boys’ lives, not only in the familial sphere, but in the school setting as well, where females dominate the teaching profession, and what has been known as the “feminisation of schooling.”

“Being able to work quietly, cooperatively in groups, communicate effectively, be receptive, be introspective, be diligent, be methodical… teachers value those behaviours… we demand them… girls fit that mold; boys don’t,” she explained.

Dr Newman related that research has shown that outside of a student’s ability, the second greatest influence on their performance is teaching.

“So, if we want to affect the learning outcomes of students, and I put in brackets ‘boys,’ teaching is key. But if that teaching and schooling generally favours girls’ behaviours and does not value or pay attention to boys, then we have a problem,” she stated. Minister of Education Dr Nicolette Henry, in her address, stated that discussions will have to be held to determine what a “modern curriculum should look like.” She expressed hopes that the discussions at the symposium would birth a fusion of ideas that can be incorporated into the local education system.

“As the responsible institution, the Ministry of Education must look at the data to reform policies, strategies and curriculum. And it is, therefore, opportune at this time that we undertake a very extensive curriculum reform and we have begun that process,” she related.

Thursday’s presentations were on the “Cross-section of boys’ performance in education,” done by a Ministry of Education representative; and a presentation titled “Needed! A paradigm shift for unravelling the problem of male underachievement”, presented by Professor Barbara Bailey. Those were to be followed by a panel discussion on “Voices and perspectives on boy’s experiences in education”.

Presentations planned for Friday were “Keeping boys out of risk—When that’s just where they want to be”, which will be presented by Shawn Hardnett, of the North Star College Preparatory Academy for Boys; Critical Mas: A collaborative project to co-design solutions with at-risk Caribbean youth,” to be presented by Dr Ngoni Chipere, of the University of the West Indies’ Open Campus; “Feminisation of Education—The absent male teacher,” by Dr Christopher Clarke, Principal of Shortwood Techers’ College in Jamaica; “Misconstruc-tions, Deconstructions and Reconstructions in Masculinity: Implications for Pedagogical Approaches to the teaching of male students in the Guyanese classroom,” by Dennis Gill, of the UG Berbice Campus; “Considerations for accelerating attendance, participation and performance,” to be presented by Education Specialist Audrey Michele Rodrigues and Michael Gillis, a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at UNICEF.

Their presentations were to be followed by two panel discussions: “Lessons from TVET—A Success Story,” by Patrick Onwuzirike, Deputy Chief Education Officer of the Ministry of Education; and the “Portrayal of males in the media,” by Enrico Woolford, the Chairman of the National Communica-tions Network’s Board of Directors.

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University of Guyana commissions new registry building

7th December, 2017 0 comments

Registration, the issuance of transcripts and everything in between will now flow smoothly for the students of the University of Guyana, following the commissioning of a new registry building at the Turkeyen Campus.

According to Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Griffith, the building aims to benefit the registry staff and students of the Turkeyen University. “Is it necessarily all that we want? No. But it is much better than what we have had allowing us to enable our staff to be in a place of comfort; and enabling us to have the students be served in a place of comfort,” Professor Griffith said.

Meanwhile, President of the University of Guyana Student Society (UGSS), Norwel Hinds said the new building should also serve to encourage the renewal of services being provided.

“Although it serves (the building) the practical purpose of consolidating services and consolidating your focus on student services in particular; it also serves as a symbolic indicator on the focus on renewal for campus, the forging of new attitude consistent with the philosophy of servant leadership,” Hinds posited.

Immediate Past Registrar of the University, Vincent Alexander in noting his satisfaction at witnessing the building come to fruition, outlined several changes made over the past few years and the importance of a registry for students attending the university.

The 86.3M three-story building is outfitted with several air conditioner systems and laptops, that will enhance the services provided to over 8000 students at the Turkeyen Campus Georgetown. The construction of the new registry was financed under the Ministry of Education’s annual Budget.

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Decades old school curriculum to be reviewed

21st September, 2017 0 comments

THE Ministry of Education will be moving to review a 20-year-old school curriculum, in an effort to re-energise the education sector here. Particular focus will be placed on English and Mathematics, subject areas the education system has been struggling with over time. Special focus will also be placed on the inclusion of the use of technology to aid teaching and learning, Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry has said. The Minister was speaking on Wednesday to educators, students and other stakeholders during the launch of the Guyana Education Sector Improvement Project (GESIP) at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD).

According to the Minister, it has already been acknowledged that the education system has to be fortified to serve all of Guyana’s students. It is for this reason, she explained, that the government has re-engineered a system that will produce a new framework, which will give every child the chance to be educated to their full potential. “We have work to do, by closing the disparities in education among schools and regions, raising grades in English and Mathematics in particular across the education spectrum, especially in the hinterland areas, and making sure that every child has access to equal education,” Minister Henry said. She added that the project is a team effort, in that “all hands are on deck” to produce the quality outcome needed from 2018 and beyond.

The project, she said, has been carefully designed, with specific measureable markers lending attainability to the results. It has four phases, beginning at the nursery and ending at the tertiary level. 

Those components include training teachers and lecturers in course delivery and teaching practices. Educators are also expected to ensure that the students are part of the performance evaluation system, which she said has been tested and has shown qualitative results in the primary and the secondary schools. The Ministry will also be acquiring technology for higher quality education to facilitate learning in classrooms in remote areas, the Minister related. “The components are pillars of a new system of education that transform students. Teachers development and training is important,” she said.

Speaking also at the event was Chief Education Officer (CEO), Mr Marcel Hutson, who said that the dynamic nature of education requires constant review and research of programmes, with a view of the education system being relevant by meeting the social and economic needs of a society. He said the Ministry’s intention is to produce global citizens that will add value to the country and the world at large.
According to him, the success of the project requires a multiplicity of informed decisions to be taken; which is what the project is all about. “Some of those decisions include the review of the curriculum, which is the core of any education system,” he said. It is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure that the curriculum is so structured,” he added.

He, too, pointed out that the education system has struggled with Mathematics and English, which is why more focus will be given to a more “hands-on approach to the teaching of these subjects”. He said there will also be a concentration on the use of technology on the teaching/learning process. ENCERD Director, Ms Jennifer Cumberbatch, said the project brings everyone closer to a new and improved curriculum, which is considered the heart of any learning institution. An effective curriculum, she said, provides teachers and administrators with a measure of plan and structure of delivering quality education. “A reviewed curriculum is long overdue. There are many new and emerging challenges and demands to education and on curriculum,” Cumberbatch noted. She said that seeing that the last curriculum review was done in the 1990s, it is high time for a renewal.

Cumberbatch said the revised curriculum will promote the development of competencies, including critical thinking, the use of technology, problem solving etc. “With this spiral curriculum that we intend to have; we will see that our nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary levels indeed support each other,” she promised.

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UG athletes dominate National Schools Relay Festival

5th May, 2017 0 comments

The nation’s highest learning institution, University of Guyana (UG) along with West Demerara Secondary and Christianburg/Wismar Multilateral School recorded some standout performances when the Ministry of Education (MoE) staged the second annual National Schools Relay Festival at the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora yesterday.

The student athletes of UG unsurprisingly dominated the tertiary segment of the event with their speedy footwork and their faultless baton passing. A quartet of sprinters from West Demerara romped home to victory in the girls 4x100m U-14 event which was anchored by the fleet footed Binka Joseph.

Jennis Benjamin ran an impressive anchor leg for Christianburg/Wismar for his team to take the top podium spot in the Boys U-18 4x100m event. Up to press time, the official results were still to be released. A full report will be published in a subsequent article.

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