The British Council will be presenting their third annual Boys In Education Week from 29 April – 02 May 2019, under the theme: Boys Can!
This year, the British Council is using their Boys in Education Week of activities as a precursor to their island-wide Boys Can Mentoring Programme. With the support of the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation, year one of this three-year programme is set to launch in May.
“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.” explains 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.”
Through their Creating Equity in Teaching and Learning module, the Jamaica Teaching Council highlights that: “the concerns for the underperformance of boys have been expressed island-wide. The results of various formal examinations provide 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 the structure of the education system insufficiently caters to the needs of young men.
Having been a supporter of Boys in Education Week since its inception in 2017, Tanketa Chance-Wilson, General Manager at Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation shares that the goal of the programme aligns with Grace & Staff’s core principle, “Grace Kennedy 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.”
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.
For the 2019 Boys in Education Week, UNESCO has come on board as a strategic partner as the activities align with the work the organisation has been doing around masculinity. The four days of activities will take place at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Downtown.
On 29 April 2019, there will be an Empowering Educators Seminar lead by UNESCO exploring 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 guest speaker will be Dr Margaret Chin.
On 30 April 2019, there will be an Empowering Parents Seminar lead by UNESCO exploring what a positive male role model looks like. Professor Opal Palmer-Adisa, will lead a panel that will facilitate discussion around masculinity and equip parents with skills to motivate their boys as they move through their academic journey.
On 01 May 2019, the focus will revolve on mentoring at least 80 boys drawn from schools across Jamaica, mentored by Leaders and professionals from across the island. The boys will have an opportunity to engage mentors on a variety of topics of interest through shared learning and exchange of ideas.
The Careers Speed-Mentoring Day for boys and girls will be on 02 May 2019. Professionals from organisations across the island will engage the 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 while creating a safe space for dialogue and sharing new ideas.