AS the FNM campaigned for election in 2017, then candidate Jeff Lloyd made a pledge. He said if the party was elected, it planned to “immediately” implement a pilot programme to try out single-sex classes.
“Boys and girls learn differently,” he said. “Young men and young females learn differently and they advance at different paces.”
Mr Lloyd spoke as the graduate of an all boys school – St Augustine’s College back in the 1960s – and was also involved with an all boys programme called YEAST for more than 13 years.
Single-sex education is an old idea that has gained more traction in recent years. As an old idea, it is also one that has been much researched over the years. One of the key criticisms by experts elsewhere is that it can’t just be a case of separating the children into different classrooms. If they do indeed learn differently, then they need different methods of teaching – and teachers able to deliver each method. In short, if a boy learns differently from a girl, then give each of them a syllabus custom-fit to let each flourish.
It may not have been the “immediate” pilot that Mr Lloyd pledged, but a pilot programme, described as small-scale and involving one school in Grand Bahama, was launched in the 2018-2019 school year.
Grand Bahama, of course, has had its troubles along the way. First Hurricane Dorian, then the pandemic. So it would be unwise to draw conclusively from such a disrupted pilot – but that doesn’t mean it can’t give some pointers.
Mr Lloyd says it has been shown to be “very effective”, although we would probably all feel a little more comfortable if that didn’t come from the same Education Minister who hailed the last round of exam results a success when they very clearly were not.
That said, if there has been signs of benefit to children then absolutely it is worth considering a wider pilot – something a little more than that “small scale”.
The results should not just be down to exam results – it should also take into account those harder to categorise benefits or costs that see students grow into a whole person. Does keeping children apart reinforce some of the less desirable characteristics? Does mixing children help them to be better integrated in society?
These are all questions to weigh as we come to a conclusion – even as we applaud the goal of improving children’s education. So if this showed positive signs? On to the next step – but one step at a time.
There has been much talk lately – with oil drilling in the news – of the need to keep our beautiful waters clean.
In today’s Tribune, we learn that those waters might not be as clean as we hoped anyway – and it’s a lesson we learn from some of the greatest creatures of the ocean: sharks.
Studies have found sharks in Bahamian waters carrying high levels of heavy metals in their tissue. Where did this come from? That is unclear. The bigger question is how do these toxins affect us? After all, fishing is a major industry here.
That’s why conservation issues are so important. What affects our environment affects the creatures within that environment, absolutely, but it also affects us.
There’s no instant solution – not even an instant way to identify where the problem lies. The answer here is the same as with the schools we talk about above – more research, this time for the benefit of us all.