Male underachievement in Jamaica — Part 6
The way forward
Jacqueline Coke-Lloyd

It is recommended that the Government invests more resources in improving early childhood and secondary education because these are the educational levels where the foundation is built. In many cases males are not given the attention they need from an early age; they are not coached and guided, so it becomes increasingly difficult to influence them positively by the time they have reached the secondary level.

Thereafter, more creativity needs to be introduced and opportunities for males to expand their scope to the global environment. More companies need to introduce training groups where males can be groomed for a managerial role and have a position secured for them at the end of the training. In this way, they will have experience and understanding of what the position entails after completing tertiary studies, as opposed to solely having theoretical knowledge.

Furthermore, several policy and institutional measures include the expansion of summer employment programmes, extracurricular business value and etiquette programmes, and male-focused academic scholarships to complement female-focused ones.

The Government should also consider using public policy to influence positive behavioural changes through a raft of incentives, which will also have a desirable effect on family structure. The benefits of family structure are well-documented. Von Buskirk (2017) notes that family structure offers children a sense of security and control in a world full of uncertainty and helps create healthy habits that last into adulthood. Baumgardner (2018) found that when children grow up with their two married biological parents they have a lower rate of delayed medical care, while the AEI-Brookings Working Group (2022) discovered that children in married-parent families have access to higher levels of income and assets.

Several countries have implemented various family-oriented policies. In Ireland, in 1995, the Government instituted a "families first" approach by establishing a national family mediation service and policies to address the effect of divorce on families. In the same year, Norway created a National Programme for Parental Guidance to reinforce the role of parents in raising children and as caregivers, as well as to help prevent the development of negative patterns of interaction and psychosocial problems in children and young people. Finally, the New Zealand Government developed a Family Start programme that provides an intensive home visiting programme designed to help 850 families with the greatest difficulties from the time their children are born to the day they start school.

The Government may also want to explore the idea of dedicating a ministry solely to family and home affairs. Norway's Ministry of Children and Family Affairs was successful in coordinating government policy in developing both the 'time account', 'father's quota', and 'cash support' schemes to ensure that parents are able to spend more time with their children and are able to cover the cost of day care. Another example is Panama's Ministry of Children and the Family, which was responsible for coordinating the State's preventive care, protection, and welfare policies, as well as, promoting the civic and moral values of the family and responsible parenthood.

As a large stakeholder and influencer with an extensive reach islandwide, the Church has a massive role to play in developing healthy family units. Primarily, the Church can enhance the spiritual culture of the home setting by inculcating faith-based morals and ethics which reflect God's design for the family. Furthermore, the Church can assist in rebuilding broken homes and families through counselling, mediation, and reconciliation services.

The data from this series identified issues that are fundamental to the explanation for the low number of males identified in tertiary institutions. At the core of the problem is how males have been socialised and how this socialisation has affected their way of thinking and their perceptions of life. Males also need to be given a more tailored academic experience and have greater access to individuals they can look to for guidance and motivation because they often they cannot find such people in their communities and households. If the system plays its part in addressing all these factors then there will be an increased level of confidence, drive, and determination to strive for academic success resulting in improved outcomes.

Dr Jacqueline Coke-Lloyd is a transformational leader and managing director of MYM Group Limited. She is a people, organisational, and middle manager development professional, as well as founder of Young Entrepreneurs Association. Coke is a national productivity ambassador, speaker, author, and adjunct professor. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

Norway introduced a Ministry of Children and Family Affairs which was successful in coordinating government

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