Spotlight on educational ­performance of boys

More women than men graduate from universities
A majority of graduates from Namibian higher learning institutions are women, an issue that has prompted educators to investigate the causes of underperformance among young men. 
Wetumwene Shikage
Wetumwene Shikage

To discuss the issue of boys’ underperformance and under-participation in Namibian education, Unam hosted a two-day seminar to unpack the findings of a study conducted in various regions across Namibia.

The academic seminar, which took place from 27 to 28 March at the Khomasdal campus in Windhoek, provided a platform for an in-depth look for the variance of performance between male and female students.

Educational stakeholders from all 14 regions attended the event to share their perspectives and suggestions on how to support boys’ education within the context of gender equality and inclusive education frameworks.

National worry

Delivering the keynote address, deputy executive director of education, Edda Bohn, said the underperformance and under-participation of boys in education is an issue of national concern.

She said the Namibian nation in general and education stakeholders in particular are exploring ways to support boys’ education.

“Over the years, it has been observed that women and girls all over the world are discriminated against and made to experience disadvantages in all spheres of life, including education,” she acknowledged.

She added however that questions should be asked as to what goals are in place to advance the academic achievements not only of girls but also of boys, “and what boys do that undermines their academic achievements.”

Bohn said it is important to celebrate the academic gains of girls, but to also look at strategies to support and enhance boys’ education.

She added that at secondary levels, more boys than girls display low survival and promotion rates from one grade to another, high failure rates, and high school-leaving rates.

Factors playing a role

Unam pro vice chancellor of academic affairs, Professor Frednard Gideon, presented statistics to highlight the performance of students at the university.

The figures indicated that last year, 5 833 students graduated, of which 70% were female and the remaining 30% were male.

Gideon said among the factors that have been identified in studies as playing a role in the performance of male students are motivation, work ethics and habits, use of time, participation, and self-exclusion from learning activities.

“It was reported that female students academically performed better than male students.

“This is because they were motivated, worked harder, and did not waste time socialising in dysfunctional ways such as abusing alcohol and drugs,” he said.