Arrindell crafting special incentives to attract male teachers

POSTED: 10/5/11 12:41 PM

“A trend that should worry all of us”

St. Maarten – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Rhoda Arrindell seeking to attract more males to the teaching profession in order to create a gender balance and as a prevention mechanism. She made the announcement in her World Teacher’s Day address, in which she also calls for a wider societal debate on the subject. The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Teachers for Gender Equality.”
“From the policy point of view, it seems to me that, as I have said before, we would have to come up with a program specifically targeting our young men, offering them special incentives to enter the teaching profession. Call it a sort of “affirmative action” program for male teachers, if you will. The form these incentives will take is still being worked out. What we do not have the luxury to do however, is fold our arms and expect the situation to improve by itself. If we do nothing, then we should expect nothing to happen,” Arrindell said Tuesday.

Arrindell has consistently called the ratio of female to male teachers “highly disproportionate” and unhealthy for the education of especially the nation’s young men as the imbalance gives them no role models in the classroom. The imbalance in the ratio grows further when one considers the high number of women who are school managers and who work at the ministry.
Arrindell is further concerned about the gender inequality in terms of graduating students and plans to have the ministry study this trend because at the moment there are more girls than boys completing at least their secondary education.
“A look at our classrooms, especially the graduating classes at the secondary school level, would also reveal a trend that should worry all of us, teachers as well as parents; policy makers as well as the general public. It appears that the girls to boys ratio in those classes mirrors what we see in front of the classrooms with respect to the ratio of female to male teachers. This becomes very noticeable at graduation ceremonies,” Arrindell said.

The minister’s starting point for the study is that young men who do not have male role models in their classrooms will struggle and have a harder time being motivated
“May I humbly submit, here and now, that it is imperative for us to address the issue of drop-outs where the boys seem to outnumber the girls, and make education so attractive that our children – both boys and girls – will stay in school longer and complete their studies within the specified period,” Arrindell said.
While the minister accepts that there is already a sense of gender equity in education because the law does not discriminate, she is convinced that the imbalance in male versus female teachers and the graduating female students versus the graduating male students is something that will lead to the society’s peril if it is ignored.

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