Minister for Education Alfred
Minister for Education Alfred

The refrain is the same, year after academic year: girls continue to outperform boys in the various school-leaving exams, and the year 2021 is no different.

Year after academic year the Ministry of Education vows to tackle the issue at its core and the year 2021 is no different.

This year the Ministry announced that it has appointed a task force to investigate reasons why boys continue to underperform their female counterparts.

The Ministry acknowledged that it continues to see inequalities in the academic performance of boys versus girls and because this trend has been happening for several years, a working group was recently established to investigate this trend.

The group consists of teachers, principals, and staff of the Ministry of Education. While no deadline has been given, the group is expected to produce solid recommendations to address this challenge.

The revelation of this newly commissioned group was made public at the announcement of this year's Grade Six National Assessment where 896 pupils, 430 girls, and 466 boys discovered their fate.

Measurement Officer in the Ministry of Education, Candia Robinson, who was responsible for the preparation and administration of the exams, highlighted the disparity when looking at the scores for Language and Mathematics.

'Here we have the number of students who got As, Bs, and Cs, and again if you look at As and Bs for Language, as well as Maths the girls outperformed the boys and then when you look at the Ds and Es the boys, had more Ds and Es than the girls, sometimes twice as much," she said

These results are indeed worrying, and not just for Ministry officials, but teachers as well. The newly formed group has had already had several meetings with various stakeholders including students. The Ministry disclosed the team is in its data collection stage and is gathering information from teachers, parents, students, community members, and others.

Concern for the boys' academic performance has been a continuous one in the public's eye as girls constantly get a bigger slice of the educational pie.

Parents and the wider public are always eager to find out the criteria for scholarships to know if their child or someone they know is eligible.

Robinson explained: "Let me say 18 points to 20 points will constitute a scholarship and 16 to 17 points will constitute a bursary'. It comes as no surprise that the majority of pupils in this cream of the crop are female. Here's the breakdown:18 points 17 girls and 11 boys; 19 points 13 girls 8 boys; 20 points 11 girls and 4 boys.

A similar trend is reflected in those who obtained bursaries.

"With bursaries, again it was worth 16 points and 17 points. So 34 girls got 16 points as opposed to 32 boys and 27 girls got 17 points as opposed to 15 boys," she added.

The Ministry officials pledged that work on this initiative to rectify boys' academic performance will continue into the next school year. There are also hopes to engage the public soon on ways educators can create more learning opportunities that resonate with male students and help to improve their achievement levels.