Endangered species: more boys than girls drop out of school
Ministry needs to plan interventions - McAdam By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
July 14, 2002

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The Education Ministry has no strategy to deal with the issue of fewer boys writing the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, and needs to plan interventions to correct this situation, Deputy Chief Education Officer, Romeo McAdam, said.

In a telephone interview, McAdam told Stabroek News that underachievement by male students at the junior secondary level has been discussed at all levels of the ministry, but there was need to establish the causes.

It has been noted that more male students were enrolled at the nursery and primary levels, but at the secondary level male dropout and repetition rates were greater than for female students.

One of the causes, McAdam said, might be the exodus of experienced and qualified teachers from the system. Trained teachers without the experience, he said, could not substitute for those who accumulated years of experience then left the system due to poor salaries and working conditions.

There were other sociological factors that had to be considered, McAdam said, and these included boy children coming from single parent families and having absentee fathers among others.

Professor Zellynne Jennings’ study, `Nipped in the bud - Young Guyanese and their Functional Literacy,’ noted that females achieved at a higher level and this “was reinforced not only in early reading primers but by the fact that in most instances, the child’s early initiation into reading is done by a female. Female teachers predominate in the education system in Guyana from the nursery through to the secondary level. Furthermore, the primary system, where the foundation in literacy is laid, seems to be more inefficient with respect to the education of boys.”

Superintendent of Examinations in the Ministry of Education, Juliet Persico, told Stabroek News that since the late 1980s the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) had noted that more females than males were writing the CSEC examinations and through the years the trend continued to widen. In addition to more females writing the CSEC examinations, she noted, girls were excelling in the examinations.

A review of the Ministry of Education’s five-year Education Development Plan for the period 1995 to 2000 showed that enrolment of boys at the nursery and primary levels was higher than that of girls. But at the secondary level, more girls were enrolled in secondary schools than boys were.

Year                       Boys                  Girls

1994/1995             14,231               13,896
1995/1996             14,752               14,554
1996/1997             15,550               15,186
1997/1998             16,983               16,383
1998/1999             18,380               17,832

Year                        Boys                   Girls

1994/1995             45,810               44,458
1995/1996             51,020               49,232
1996/1997             51,775               50,225
1997/1998             51,369               49,629
1998/1999             53,617               51,703

Year                        Boys                   Girls

1994/1995             24,042                27,595
1995/1996             30,798                32,567
1996/1997             30,198                31,845
1997/1998             30,006                31,247
1998/1999             30,524                31,392

It should be noted that students at the secondary level are placed at schools - primary tops, community high schools, junior secondary and senior secondary schools - based on their performance at the Secondary Schools Entrance Examinations.

Only the students at the junior and senior secondary schools are given the chance to write the two examinations, the CSEC and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations, offered by the CXC, and the General Certificate of Education examinations.

The review of the education plan noted that male students outnumbered females in the primary tops and community high schools, on a ratio of approximately 5:4 while at the general secondary level the females outnumbered the males. Very few of the students in the primary tops and community high schools ever write the CSEC examinations in the formal education system.

The primary tops are not full secondary schools and teaching practice may range from one or two multi-grade classes to six or more secondary classes reaching Form Three and Form Four. Generally primary school teachers teach in the secondary departments.

The Secondary Schools Reform Project and the Guyana Education Access Project (GEAP) pilot programme aim to reform the primary tops through upgrading teachers and where feasible, transforming the primary tops into secondary schools.

The community high schools provide education from Form One to Form Four with emphasis on vocational subjects, that is on a ratio of 60:40 for vocational and core subjects.

The dropout and repetition rates at the general secondary level are also higher among the males than females.

Year                             Drop-outs                       Repetitions
                                 Boys         Girls              Boys          Girls
1994/1995                  —             —                21.7%         16.7%
1995/1996                  7.9%         6.3%            18.2%         13.7%
1996/1997                    5%             4%                15%           12%
1997/1998                 6.2%           6.2%            16.5%       12.45%
1998/1999                  4.5%          4.1%            14.1%        10.0%

Ian McDonald in the 'Ian on Sunday’ column of the Sunday Stabroek on July 7, quoted CXC figures which showed that at the 2001 sitting of the CSEC, 39.5% (3,572) of the local candidates were males compared to 60.95% (5,573) who were females.

In neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago, 13,7734 (39.71%) males wrote the CSEC examinations last year compared to 20,855 (60.29%) females; in Barbados, it was 2,278 (38.33%) males to 4,469 (56.19%) females; and in Jamaica 18,672 (36.3%) males to 33,155 (63.97%) females.

Of the number of candidates at the regional level (from 18 countries) who wrote the CSEC examinations 44,664 or 37.84% were males compared to 73,383 or 62.16% females.

The countries involved were Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Netherlands Antilles and Suriname.

In thirteen core/academic subjects females outnumbered the males as well. For instance in English A, 28,326 males wrote the subject compared to 43,512 females; in Mathematics, 42,498 males wrote the subject compared to 69,505; in Social Studies 10,079 males wrote the subject compared to 18,022; and in Integrated Science 5,151 wrote the subject compared to 7,781.