JAMAICA | Save our Boys! Dr. Herbert Gayle appeals to government

JAMAICA | Save our Boys! Dr. Herbert Gayle appeals to government

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica  May 10, 2021 - Lecturer in social anthropology at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Dr. Herbert Gayle has once again made an appeal for more attention to be paid to ensuring the education of Jamaica's boys who are up to 10 times more likely to become high-risk crime statistics if they do not remain in school to at least complete their secondary education.

Dr. Gayle made his comments as he made a  presentation to educators and parents in western Jamaica, at an online forum organized by the Coalition of Principals in St. James which looked at the social issues affecting education.

“We used boys in Spanish Town, Manchester, and Montego Bay to form a database on whether they dropped out of school by grade nine. If they were to complete secondary school and sit at least three CXC subjects, they were four times less likely to be high-risk than the boys who dropped out at grade nine, and if a boy ever finishes CAPE subjects, he is 10 times safer than a boy who dropped out of school,” said Gayle.

The social scientist suggested that keeping boys in school was far less expensive than it would cost to maintain his upkeep in prison on a yearly basis.

“I have been begging principals, senior education officers, and our government to try and keep boys in school because when they drop out of school by grade nine, gangs cannot wait for them. It costs Jamaica US$7,000 (J$1,067,682) yearly to keep one male in prison, but only US$2,500 (J$381,315) to keep him in school,” declared Gayle.

The lecturer also told the meeting that countries with high murder rates have men who are more illiterate than women, and that men who have little or no education are more likely to abuse their partners.

“In all the most violent countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the men have massive secondary education participation gaps compared to women. If you take the top 20 most murderous countries in the world, they do not have men over 80 per cent literate, but the women are almost 100 per cent literate,” explained Gayle.

He noted that almost a decade ago, in 2021, “the World Economic Forum reported that for every 100 males enrolled in tertiary education in Jamaica,there are 228 females. This is the sixth widest gap in the world,” Gayle said.

“This gap was not created suddenly,” he said, “rather it is the result of centuries of deliberate policies and strategies to keep Jamaican males out of school. Certainly, the problem can be seen in the secondary school system that feeds tertiary institutions. It is clear from the data that males have a problem in accessing the country’s most elite schools,” Dr. Gayle noted.

He explained that “males in Jamaica face three critical disadvantages that affect enrollment at the tertiary level.

  1. Early childhood to primary school neglect
  2. Higher proportion of attrition due to gender role related family decision-making in times of economic hardship.
  3. Restricted entry into the most elite secondary schools created by unchanged’anti-male’ colonial policies. These problems are exacerbated if the male comes from a poor or inner city background,” said Gayle.

In presenting data to support his argument, the Social anthropologist quoted Ministry of Education data to  show that “there are twice more single sex traditional secondaryschools for girls than for boys. There are fifteen all girls secondary schools in Jamaica, compared to seven all boys secondary schools. The result is that girls numerically dominate the higher achieving co-educational elite or traditional schools. At the other end, boys form the majority of the most poorly-resourced secondary schools in Jamaica -comprising almost 60 per cent,” Dr. Gayle informed.

“Uneducated men are 50 per cent more likely to batter their partners than the average of any country. You dare not take the risk of having uneducated men in your country and then talk about violence against women,” continued Gayle. “We want to discuss the consequence, not the cause, and violence against women is a consequence, not a cause.”

He observed that a 2006 United Nations report suggested that if Caribbean homicide is reduced by a third, the country’s per capita growth could double. He said “countries that have invested more in equal education opportunities for all are more developed today. Low education participation of either males or females retard the development of a country, given the fact that quality training drives economies. He said emphasis on male oriented education and training robs societies of general and social development, while emphasis on educating females at the expense of males weakens the capacity in science and technology,” Dr. Gayle said. 

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