Study to determine cause of young male underachievement proposed
CDB approached for funding By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
July 28, 2002

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The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has received a proposal for funding of a study, pertinent to young male under-achievement in the Caribbean, from the Gender Studies Unit of the University of the West Indies.

Meanwhile, The Hague-based Caribbean Support Initiative (CSI) is currently supporting parenting practices and may provide maximum funding of US$10,000 to agencies conducting research on child care and development, through its rapid response programme. The CSI is a five-year initiative, which among other issues deals with the socialisation processes and emphasises early childhood care and development.

CSI Director, Susan Branker, said that the project was using five strategies in arriving at its objectives in working with communities.

At a press conference held at the Ocean View Hotel yesterday, CDB Project Officer with responsibility for Human Resource Development, Desmond Durand, said that at present the proposal for funding a research into young male under-achievement from UWI was with the bank and was being prepared for the bank’s board of directors’ meeting to be held in October.

Responding to a question on what was being done to address the issue of young male under-achievement, Durand noted that the issue was a major concern. And while he could not pre-judge the bank’s decision on the issue of funding for the proposed study, he said, there were prospects for further collaboration on the


Also on the issue of young male under-achievement Paediatric Epidemiologist and Head of the Department of Child Health, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI, Dr Maureen Samms-Vaughan, said that there was need for more research to find out why the male child was under-achieving in spite of beginning on a level playing field with the female child in the formative years.

Dr Samms-Vaughan felt the argument that the lack of a male role model in the school and in the family for boys was without much foundation as girls were being affected in the same way. Girls in the six to 11 age group missed their fathers as much as the boys and in spite of the cognitive potential they both had at about the same period, boys still under-achieved.

In addition, too, she said, women have traditionally dominated the teaching profession and continued to do so. In the Caribbean, she said, the best ways to get boys to learn would be to determine the causes why they underachieved, in order to take action.

CARICOM Human Development Director, Jacqulyn Joseph, noted that the issue has been raised at the CARICOM Heads of Government level as a major cause for concern and the issue of teacher training to deal with gender issues and education was being explored. The objective was to produce a module in gender education for teacher trainees at teacher training colleges in the region.

UNICEF Regional Director in the Office of the Americas and the Caribbean, Per Engerbak, said that the issue of the boy-child underachieving was a recent phenomenon and it was not only limited to the Caribbean but was also occurring in North America, Europe, and other parts of the world.

However, in spite of constraints, he said, the Caribbean was “way ahead” in early childhood education than some Latin American countries. He said there was not a “comparative model” in Latin America, “thanks to the initiative” of the Caribbean early childhood educators.