Seventy per cent of the 1,019 students who graduated from the Barbados Community College (BCC) last Saturday evening were females, compared to 30 per cent of males.
And, while expressing his concern over the gender disparity, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, challenged management at the College to come up with creative ways to attract more males to the institution.
He told the audience attending BCC’s 44th Graduation Ceremony at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, Wildey, St. Michael, that while he applauded the high female enrolment, the low numbers when it came to the opposite sex were a cause for concern and posed “a serious sociological danger”.
“Right now, women in this country dominate; they are assertive, purposeful and focused. They are the ones who go for mortgages, buy cars and help to create family life. There is nothing wrong with women educating themselves. There is something wrong with men not educating themselves. There is space at the Community College for more men…and when they drop the ladies off on mornings, afternoons or evenings on their bicycles, they too will park their bicycles at the college and go to classes as well.
“Otherwise, sociologically, rather than young women looking across their age cohort they will look beyond their age cohort because the men of the 70s and the 60s are educated and you want your equal in conversation…and in earning capacity. This is a sociological argument that makes sense,” he proffered.
The Education Minister also stated that there were some young men who were content with “growing up stupid under the broken trident” by leaving secondary school without any certification.
He added that these youngsters were not competing in the economy, nor were they living up to their fullest potential. He implored them to “get up from where they are” and join a programme of interest at any tertiary institution.
Minister Jones suggested that one solution could be for the BCC and other places of higher learning to give males credits based on their experience, in an effort to help them become comfortable in a tertiary learning environment.
“We have to take on that challenge [of attracting more males] as a learning institution… Educators like you all must take on that challenge, leaders of institutions must take on that challenge and the governors of the country must take on that challenge,” he emphasised.
In her report, acting Principal of the BCC, Dr. Cheryl Weekes, reassured the audience that the tertiary institution was making a conscious effort to recruit more males. Her report showed a gender gap – in favour of females – in the enrolment of the various programmes offered.
“For the academic year under review, the student enrolment was 3,697 – up from the previous year 3,491 – 1,289 males and 2,408 females. The ratio remains 1:2. With the exception of the Divisions of Computer Science and Technology, all other divisions recorded greater female enrolment when compared to males,” she disclosed.
Dr. Weekes said this deficit of males in higher education was a recurrent problem across all tertiary level institutions in Barbados.