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Education system failing our boys

During a speech in March, College of The Bahamas (COB) president Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze told the Zonta Club that only 14 percent of COB graduates are male.

“It is not a problem that happens once they get to us.  They are not graduating at the same rates, they are not applying for college at the same rates and that gap continues to widen,” she said.

The head of COB is right.  Each year the results of the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) reveal the problem with boys in the education system.

In 2010, girls received 16,233 grades; boys received 10,683 grades.  Boys are only receiving 39.7 percent of the grades issued at the senior exams.

The boys receive fewer grades because fewer of them are there at graduation.  Our boys are dropping out in large numbers.

What is even sadder is that the boys who stay in school long enough to do their final exams are doing poorly. 

For A through C grades at the 2010 BGCSE’s, girls received about double the number of these grades than boys.  Our education system is failing.  It is particularly failing our boys.

There is without question a correlation between education systems that fail boys and high crime rates.  Young men unable to function in a modern economy will not simply sit down and starve to death.

The Bahamas has set three homicide records in four years and it is on pace to shatter the dubious record set last year.  Police have also been battling a surge in recent years in armed robberies and property crimes such as house-breakings.

Our crisis is not just a crime crisis.  It is a crisis of integrating young men into the legal economy and into civil society.  A national effort is required to help our boys.  One part of the strategy to help them may be to separate the genders in the public education system.

Environments need to be created to help young men, collectively, to equate masculinity with honest work, achievement and struggle.  As we fail our boys in the current education system they go off into the underworld economy of drugs and violence.

The reformatory schools also need to be expanded.  Those who cannot behave should not be allowed to remain in regular schools disrupting the peace.  Those parents who cannot, or do not wish to, control their disruptive children should lose custody of those children to the state.

Just as the reformatory schools would exist for the disruptive, a new juvenile prison is needed at Her Majesty’s Prisons.  This would be different from the reformatory schools, which would be schools for troubled children.  Juvenile jail would be jail for young criminals.

These few suggestions should be a part of a wider national discussion on the failing of Bahamian males.  We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on education in The Bahamas and we still have the problems we have.  Simply throwing more money at the education system is not necessarily the solution.

There was a time a few decades ago when women were discriminated against in the workplace and by law.

We fortunately have evolved beyond those times.  Today, however, as women rise and take on leadership positions in the country, men are falling.

The 14 percent figure at COB is dangerous.  If we cannot reach our boys and encourage them to embrace education, more and more of them will be before our courts lost, confused and charged with all manner of violent offenses.

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