The week of activities, it said, will be a precursor to its islandwide Boys Can Mentoring Programme, a three-year project set to launch in May with the support of the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation.
“Last year we presented an opportunity for our male students (grades 5-9) to highlight the challenges and opportunities in their school life. Simultaneously, we brought parents, teachers and policy-influencing stakeholders to the table to engage each other in a meaningful way, to discuss challenges, opportunities and possible solutions to address boys’ learning, motivation and engagement. We also aim to address the wider issue of gender equity, with a view to demonstrating how engaging boys contributes to a more egalitarian education system for the advancement of both boys and girls,” explained Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick, British Council’s country director for Jamaica.
“Now, with the support of the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation, we will be working with more than 30 schools across the island to provide active mentoring for some of their most vulnerable male students with the hope of not only encouraging them to remain in school through career mentoring, but to help them to develop healthier relationships and lifestyle choices,” she added.
In its Creating Equity in Teaching and Learning module, the Jamaica Teaching Council highlights that: “the concerns for the underperformance of boys have been expressed islandwide. The results of various formal examinations provide the evidence that the education of boys is in a crisis… The question of why boys are underperforming within our school system has been linked to a number of factors, including teaching methodology; socio-economic background; lack of communal support from parents and schools; and structure of the education system insufficiently catering to the needs of young men.”
Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation has supported Boys in Education Week since its inception in 2017. The fund’s general manager Tanketa Chance-Wilson shared that the goal of the programme aligns with Grace & Staff’s core principle.
“GraceKennedy is firmly committed to the development of Jamaica’s youth, and given the current and ongoing widespread discussion about the range of influences faced by our young people, and our young men in particular, we realise our responsibility in helping them to be their best selves now, and set a solid foundation for them to grow. We are really impressed with the work of the British Council on this area, and are very proud to partner with them again for the benefit of our young people, our boys in particular, and Jamaica at large,” she said.
The programme will feature more than 30 mentors across multiple career disciplines, each working with one school. Over the period of a year, mentees, mentors, teachers and parents will be taken through a programme to explore aspects of career development, emotional intelligence, leadership & confidence building, conflict management, communication and problem-solving skills.
UNESCO, which has been producing work on the subject of masculinity, is also partnering with British Council for the 2019 Boys in Education Week.
The four days of activities will take place at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
Tomorrow, the Empowering Educators Seminar lead by UNESCO will discuss inclusive pedagogies. Through group discussions and break-out activities, educators will explore alternative ways of teaching boys in an effort to help address the underperformance of our male students. The event’s guest speaker will be Dr Margaret Chin.
The focus will turn to parents on Tuesday, in a seminar, also led by UNESCO, exploring what a positive male role model looks like. Professor Opal Palmer Adisa will lead a panel that will facilitate discussion on masculinity and equip parents with skills to motivate their boys as they move through their academic journey.
On Wednesday, the focus will be on mentoring some 80 boys drawn from schools across Jamaica who will have the opportunity to engage leaders and professionals from diverse fields on a variety of topics.
The Career Speed-Mentoring Day for both boys and girls will be on Thursday, May 2, featuring professionals from organisations across the island engaging students in one-on-one sessions aimed at steering them towards achievable career goals, engendering more confidence in their ability to contribute responsibly to society, and creating a safe space for dialogue and sharing new ideas.
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.