The jury is still out on the effect co-education has on the future behaviour of male students in Barbados.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones made this observation today while delivering the keynote address at St Leonard’s Boys’ Secondary School in Richmond Gap, St Michael.
Taking a critical look at a comment attributed to a leading businessman who claimed that co-education could be the cause of an increase in domestic violence, the minister said: “I know that the argument is about single-sex schools versus mixed-sex schools or co-educational institutions.
“Recently, someone drew to my attention that it was said by a leading business entrepreneur that co-educational schools are causing domestic violence. As educators and teachers, we back what we say with research. We do not just open our mouths and things fly out. What I can say to you is that the jury is still out on co-education. It is not a closed verdict. It depends on how teachers are and how good is the leadership to bring the best out of the boys here at St Leonard’s.
“I went to a single-sex primary school and we played rough, especially during lunch time. At my single-sex school the boys learned and there were no problems. Then at secondary school I went to a mixed-gender school. What we used to do was exhibit our strengths. “Male or female, we just did not care. Our emphasis was to study, and if a girl was good in French she had better catch me in English. If a girl was good in biology and anatomy, she had better catch me in maths.
“We developed competitiveness within the context of the environment. However, we also shared. Our motto was: no one was going to be left behind. We all going to make it, especially when you were in third form, fourth form and fifth form. All of us graduated with several subjects. We helped each other, we shared, we co-operated. Co-operation and collaboration within the learning environment also helps,” Jones added.
He argued that when society allows competitiveness to completely take over and do not share knowledge, the ill effects of learning arise.
“There is nothing wrong in sharing a website with a colleague . . . you are a teacher or a student. There is nothing wrong with that. The selfishness found in many of our schools can sometimes have that school not referred to as a learning environment. People do not share and hold everything to themselves. Where did you get that information from? I do not know? Let them find it; let them use it. You have to share.
“So the myths which have been created around how boys perform, how girls perform –– boys underachieving, girls overachieving . . . . In the 1960s you left primary school, while the rest went on to the erstwhile grammar schools. At that time we did not have 22 publicly owned secondary schools. We had several private secondary schools. The emphasis was on learning,” Jones argued.
The Christ Church-East Central MP pointed out that Government could not “sit and slice off a segment of the children for education. It has to be total and inclusive”.
“You have to bring everybody and give them an opportunity to reach their true and full potential. A lot of what you hear is based on classism in this country. We still have people who still want to create two and three tiers of schools. The media has fallen into the trap. So at some schools there is not indiscipline, but at other schools there is rampant indiscipline. That is a trap.
“There are all Barbadian young people; so we are going to get some indiscipline in every school. What happens is that some media bosses when they hear about it bury it, but another school it is highlighted and people walk around the country and say, ‘You see that school, it is a bad school, but this one is the best thing since sliced bread’,” Jones argued. (NC)