Monday, March 28, 2011

...low college enrolment and graduation rates by Bahamian males at the College of the Bahamas (COB)

Only 14% of COB graduates are male students

Tribune Staff Reporter

MALE students account for only 14 per cent of the graduates from the College of the Bahamas, says new COB President Dr Betsy Vogel Boze.

The statistic is evidence of a "frightening" development, mirrored in low college enrolment rates by Bahamian males while enrolment and graduation of their female counterparts continues to grow, she added. Her administration is to create a taskforce to tackle the problem and assess which social or environmental problems are behind the dismal rates.

"It's the males that I'm concerned about because only 14 per cent of our graduates are men and that's a shocking number. When I look at the numbers, the number of men has been fairly stable from the time we were created, there have been a few hundred more men but our growth has all been through the enrolment of women," she told a meeting of the Zonta Club at Luciano's restaurant yesterday.

"To only have 14 per cent of our graduates (as males) I think is a frightening number - what is happening to the Bahamian males?"

When asked by The Tribune what strategies she had planned to counteract this, Dr Boze said the problem needs a multi-faceted approach.

"I'm going to be putting together a task force and would welcome anybody's guidance on what is happening with the Bahamian males. Why are they dropping out because it's not a problem that happens once they get to us, they are not graduating at the same rates, they are not applying to college at the same rates and again that gap continues to widen.

"Does this have to do with gangs, or crime or drugs - I don't know what the problem is.

"I've also identified a prospective US partner in a city that is facing very similar challenges that we might be working with. Coming in as an outsider I don't dare say I understand what that problem is but I think we need to look at it from many different points of views and that education is just one of the symptoms of that."

COB has about 5,000 students enrolled at its main campus in Oakes Field and on the family islands but Dr Boze said enrolment is lower than other schools in the region.

"The Bahamas is actually losing ground compared to many of our Caribbean neighbours.

"We have fewer students engaged as a percentage than we did 20 years ago."

In her first public address since assuming her post about 10 weeks ago, Dr Boze also revealed that 80 per cent of COB students are enrolled in four-year baccalaureate programmes while the remaining 20 per cent are pursuing two-year associate degrees or master's programmes - an inversion of where the college was 10 years ago.

She added that COB is well on its way to achieving university status once a few additional benchmarks are met.

March 25, 2011