Please permit me to respond to a letter published in the Stabroek News on Friday April 11, 2014, entitled, ‘The Ministry of Education should put more emphasis on girls’ education,’ in which the writers questioned the ministry’s ability to competently address – through policies and programmes – the empowerment of females within the education system. Let me commence by making it pellucid, that the Ministry of Education (MOE) allows for equal opportunities throughout the sector, with no exceptions.
According to the ministry’s statistical data there is gender parity at nursery, primary and secondary levels, with the proportion of males and females in these schools being very closely related to their numbers in the population. They access exactly the same programme, and for some persons, girls have an advantage because of the high proportion of female teachers at all three levels. Girls, on average attend school more regularly, at all levels, than boys and the rate of drop out for girls is less than that of boys at all levels. Indeed the data show that girls are outperforming boys in all the national attainment tests and at the CXC examinations.
At the post-secondary level, 14 per cent of the students enrolled at CPCE are males, while 86 per cent are females and more than 60% of students at the University of Guyana are female.
The one area in which males outnumber females is in the technical and vocational area. Within TVET, males amount to 58.7 per cent, while females comprise 41 per cent. The major concern at this level however is not the greater number of males but the fact that females tend to cluster into traditional female areas like secretarial studies and the more academic areas rather than expanding into the more lucrative technical areas such engineering, construction skills, etc. The ministry has at various times implemented programmes to encourage girls into non-traditional areas even offering incentives in the form of free tools for the best performing students in non-traditional subject areas but this is still a work in progress.
The ministry has also made efforts to deal with the vulnerability of girls who become pregnant while at school. Over the last five years the ministry has been conducting a programme that is designed to reintegrate teenage mothers into the school system. Within the last two academic years 11 teenage mothers benefited from this programme while others were able to benefit from skills training programmes to allow them to earn a living.
The MOE along with the unyielding support of the Government of Guyana will continue to provide all Guyanese children with the best possible education available, so that they can all achieve their maximum potential, and become informed responsible Guyanese citizens.
Public Relations Officer
Ministry of Education