Minister of Education – Nigel Carty
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
August 19, 2011 (SKNIS)
Minister of Education Honourable Nigel Carty has assured that the Single Sex Classes earmarked for several pilot primary schools intend to ensure that the boys and girls of the Federation get the very best that the system of Education has to offer.
“One of the things we really want to focus on come September, is this whole idea of single-sex education, whereby we separate boys and girls, firstly on an experimental basis, into different classrooms out of the concern we have had about the disparity between boys and girls,” Minister Carty revealed. “There has to be a better way to educate boys and educate girls so that each of them gets the very best chance of maximizing their potential to learn and to become the very best human beings they can be.”
Minister Carty, during an SKNIS exclusive, mentioned the single-sex classes approach in the context of the fact that new strategies have to be applied to the teaching methods considering that boys in particular, are performing well below capability.
“We are starting at Grade Three and this is going through Grades Four, Five and Six,” Minister Carty explained. “So in four years time we’ll have a whole cohort of students in single-sex classrooms and over time we should be able to see what the results are. So part of what is important right now is setting baselines. What exists right now? How do boys perform? What do they like to do? What don’t they like to do? We will see if over time there’s a shift. And we believe all of this feeds into dealing with the issues of crime of violence because whilst there are immediate issues with respect to the fight against crime, there are also systematic issues, and so our education system is going to reorient boys and girls.”
During the interview, the Minister responsible for Education noted that St. Kitts and Nevis has achieved much in education and been a leader in the Caribbean Region. He mentioned whilst Grenada has recently introduced a policy to make secondary education accessible to all young people, the Federation has had this in place for decades. As such, the single-sex classroom experiment is designed to improve learning in general with the indirect benefit of decreasing male delinquency in the long-term.
Minister Carty further assured the government’s willingness to invest in the Federation’s youth.
“This government is committed to doing reasonably what is in the best interest of the boys and girls and in the best interest of the country, Minister Carty emphasized. “We need young people who are leaving schools with competence and confidence, having a desire to play a constructive role in society ““ that is what we are investing in. For starters we are doing this on an experimental basis. We are having five schools or thereabout and we are using those that already have multiple classes at the same grade level.
“So if you have two classes at Grade Three, three classes at Grade Four, then you are a good candidate for what we want to do, because it does not cost a lot in terms of resources. But where a lot of commitment is needed is in the training and orientation of our teachers.
The Minister noted that a Single-Sex Education Task Force had been established to oversee the initiative. He noted that in order for the experiment to be successful all key partners would have to be receptive to what could be achieved. Minister Carty noted that while single-sex schools was not new to the Federation, the concept of single-sex classrooms is innovative considering the present societal environment. He further noted that the practice is tried and proven with positive outcomes and encouraged parents and guardians to be receptive and cooperative because it will take the involvement of all parties to influence positive change in today’s youth.