Tuesday 23 October, 2018

Lucian Study: For boys school struggles linked with crime

Dr. Verna Knight, Senior Lecturer at the UWI, School of Education.

Dr. Verna Knight, Senior Lecturer at the UWI, School of Education.

Researcher and Senior Lecturer with the School of Education at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Verna Knight has expressed concern about the number of males struggling in the school system, who are finding refuge in the criminal element.

Dr. Knight delivered the findings on the Out of School Study in the Eastern Caribbean, conducted in St Lucia, which examined data pertaining to underperforming and unenrolled children as well as drop out numbers across seven OECS states including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The study was done in collaboration with UNESCO and UNICEF.

Dr. Knight said the study shows in the secondary school, males are twice as likely as females to not complete school represented by statistics of 32 percent to 14 percent respectively. Further to that, an analysis of students charged for crime showed that the majority of those were males.

“That in many cases tells us that we are losing the boys and we know where they are going so when we see the criminally charged increasing in terms of male students and we see they are failing in twice the number of girls, we know that there is a link there. How strong the link is, our studies can’t say as yet. But we know the link is there.”

Dr. Knight disclosed the UWI School of Education along with Graduate Studies will be embarking on a study with the local Ministry of Education to examine factors such as this in secondary students. 

Dr. Knight said the study is ideal considering Barbados was not able to participate in the Out of School study.

“We have too many children who are failing to meet their full potential at the secondary level and we need to understand why. So we would like to go in and talk with students, teachers and principals to better understand those factors.”

She said the goal is to present a list of recommendations to government so they can develop an action plan to tackle the areas of concern. Dr. Knight said there are red flags common to all Caribbean states and the instrument used in the study, focused on fourth and fifth form students, will bring these issues to the fore in the local context.

“They would’ve already gone through secondary school and in many cases at the fourth form they know they will not be doing well and they know they pretty much failed. So they have a pretty good idea and can explain to us why. And for those who can’t explain why, the questionnaire is designed in a way that we can pull those factors out from them.”

She said the study will also engage teachers to find out what barriers are there to successful education.