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More gender-sensitive curriculum needed, says Reid

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 05, 2017

MINISTER of Education Senator Ruel Reid on Tuesday suggested that the curriculum at the primary level needs to be revisited after the results of this year's grade four literacy and numeracy tests showed that girls again outperformed boys.

A press release from the education ministry disclosed that for all its six regions, girls outperformed boys in terms of overall mastery of numeracy. It said the ministry's regions two and three had the greatest percentage difference, with 14.5 per cent and 14.3 per cent respectively. Region one had the least percentage difference of 12 per cent between girls and boys.

Similarly, for literacy, girls also outperformed boys in the regions. The ministry's region five had the greatest percentage difference of 15.1 per cent, while region one had the least percentage difference of 11.2 per cent.

“…I think what the assessment is telling us is that our deliverable curriculum needs to be more gender-sensitive,” Reid told journalists on Tuesday at a press conference at the Ministry of Education.

He noted that the National Standards Curriculum is a little bit more favourable to the boys.

“It's more instructive; it's more hands-on. So even in the assessment [tests], we have to look at those questions. Are they more favourable to the girls than to the boys? We have to look at all of that, because when you see the results you have to now look at all those elements in terms of the teaching, instructional delivery, as well as the assessment to make sure that this is not biased at all to females,” he said.

Literacy coordinator at the ministry Dr Andre Hill said, despite the fact that girls have outperformed boys, it should be noted that they are still doing well.

“Some educators may argue that it is unfair to compare boys' performance to girls' performance because of reasons highlighted, but I think we risk the danger of pathologising our boys when we compare them unfairly to girls. We want them to do better, but it is important to note, as well, that most of them are in fact doing very well,” Hill stressed.

In the meantime, this year's overall literacy mastery level of 84.6 per cent represents a 5.5 per cent increase when compared to last year's 79.1 per cent.

A total of 37,894 students — 19,002 boys and 18,892 girls — sat the literacy test. Of that number, 32,074 or 84.6 per cent achieved a level of mastery. In terms of non-mastery, more boys registered this level than girls, with a 2.1 per cent difference.

Of the total number of students who sat the exam, 11.1 per cent — or 4,188 — achieved an almost mastery literacy level, while 4.3 per cent received a level of non-mastery.

For numeracy, 66.9 per cent or 25,332 students who sat the exam achieved a level of mastery. This represents an increase of 7.1 per cent when compared to last year's 59.8 per cent achievement.

Of the total number who sat the examination, 9,511 or 25.1 per cent achieved a level of almost mastery, while 3,000 or 7.9 per cent showed no mastery.