Monday, 24 August 2015

Include Gender Balance in Education Planning

The gender factor is oftentimes overlooked by many organizations involved in research and development in the society. In fact gender and development specialists are usually not taken seriously in many developing societies. This is a retrograde and myopic attitude which requires a new approach regarding how we plan for our people and the future.
With the start of the new school only two weeks away the Ministry of Education has a grand opportunity to lead in this regard. The time has come for us to do more gender based research using specialists in the field. This is especially important since educational institutions operate on a gendered system, and as such expectations are different for both sexes. The 2015 ranking of secondary schools in Jamaica clearly highlights the troubling reality of the inequalities in the education system along gendered lines. Of the top ten best performing schools according the percentage of passes in the core subject areas of Mathematics and English Language in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination seven schools are single sex all girls schools.
Research in Gender Studies reveals that we are not where we ought to be in terms of gender fairness. Gender fairness applies to having a balance and comprehensive portrayal of both men and men to any textbook. In many instances girls are not portrayed as scientists and other high skilled occupations. The society loses out on a potential pool of talent and skills because of gender-related stereotypes which places restrictions on career choices for girls. The Ministry of Education needs to take the lead in this regard, by employing education officers with the relevant experience and qualification to oversee the change that is necessary to ensure that those books approved by the ministry gives a balanced representation of both sexes.  We currently have Education Officers in charge of different subject areas; we now need to have gender based education officers who will be able to assist the ministry with developing policies, plans and programmes to address male under-achievement and under-representation, as well as to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of promoting gender equality and empowering girls/women. Girls' education is critically linked to self-determination, improved health, social and economic status, as well as positive health outcomes for the mother and the child. Yet, girls still account for 55% of the out-of-school population.  We will never have sustainable development if we continue to exclude gender or minimize the impact of gender in planning and development.

Gender Roles

Wayne Campbell