I have been observing over the years that there are several students in our secondary schools, especially boys, exiting school before reaching form 5. A few of them even reach form 5 but are unable to sit the CSCE Examination because they are not academically inclined. They too leave the system labelled as failures.
It is a known statistic from the cohort of students entering secondary schools, the majority are boys. However, when that same group leaves five years later, the girls outnumber the boys. It is, therefore, crystal clear that many of our boys “fall through the crack”, or fall along the way. I think the statement “fall through the crack” is very appropriate in this context because I genuinely believe that there is a CRACK in our education system that needs to be given serious attention and addressed.
It is my humble opinion that Technical & Vocational studies must be given equal weight in our curriculum. In recent times, there has been a lot of talk about moving in that direction but I believe we have procrastinated enough. It’s time to ACT.
I bemoan the fact that our boys are being labelled as “failures”, when in fact, we are just not catering and focusing on “strength-based” education and training, which is what their need is. We need to cater to them. While we are saying that they are underachievers, ill-disciplined or that they are not focused, have we ever stopped to consider that maybe it is our education system that is responsible for their failure. We convince ourselves that we are giving equal opportunity to our students; not realizing that there is an unreached group. Again, there has been a lot of talk about differentiated instruction as a solution to this annoyance; but it is my humble opinion that differentiated instruction is easier said than done in the absence of the necessary enabling infrastructure and resources (material and human). This is “the crack” in our system that needs to be addressed NOW.
The question to be answered is this ‘Is a successful student the one who achieved the education intended or the one who achieved the education needed?’ The global job market is screaming for technical skills, yet our focus continues to be heavily academics. It is time that serious consideration is given to the relationship between the education we deliver and employment.
I am aware of the recent attention given to NVQ and CVQ. This single initiative can transform the educational landscape and solve the problem of boys “falling through the crack”. However, I want to humbly submit that lack of proper planning and financing can see the demise of an excellent initiative.
Madam Chief Education Officer, it is because of the above concerns that I am asking that serious consideration is given to making Boca Secondary School a complex with two streams: An academics (school) and a Technical and Vocational stream (school). If the ministry is interested, I can produce a more comprehensive detailed proposal. I believe with this in place, the technical stream will serve as a catchment for those students that are not academically inclined and who would otherwise “Fall through the Crack”.
(Part 2 in next publication)