Summit to show young men why further education is worthwhile
Bermuda College is hosting a youth summit to show young men why it’s important they persevere with further education.
Organisers say they want to alter a false perception that it’s not worth studying beyond the age of 16, as enrolment figures have plunged in recent years.
The event will feature a speech from educator Lou Matthews and workshops for senior school students to discuss what they can get out of their education.
Lyndon Jackson, founder of Menspeak support network which is organising the summit, told
The Royal Gazette: “We want to address retention at the College and give young men the information they need to make choices in their lives.
“There’s a lot of challenges for young males today with all the violence in the community. They have choices to make on a day-to-day basis: choices about who they are and where they are going.”
The number of full-time students enrolling at the College fell from 665 in 1991/92 to 295 at the start of 2010/11. Career-based courses fell dramatically in that period, with hospitality students dropping from 250 to 25, and technical education from 74 to 27.
In spring 2011, despite growing unemployment on the Island, a number of full-time courses attracted zero students, including wood technology, masonry, office administration and continuing care workers.
Last summer, researchers led by Columbia University Professor Ronald Mincy revealed many young black men opted out of education because they preferred to sit on the wall.
“Bermuda’s knowledge-based economy demands higher education, but many young black Bermudian men fear that the College will not provide them with a rigorous educational experience and that they will encounter the same negative experiences with peers that prevented them from taking full advantage of what was available in secondary school,” stated Dr Mincy’s report.
Mr Jackson said Menspeak is trying to change that perception of the College.
“To say it’s a waste of time attending the College is not an accurate statement,” he said.
“If you get yourself qualified, you put yourself in a better position to get a good job going forward.
“Perception is probably the key word. I think we need to talk more positively about the options at the College, and what’s available that could benefit you. We need to get it out there that there’s options you can pursue.”
Mr Jackson, a counsellor at the College, set up Menspeak as the registered student organisation for males in 2005.
“A lot of males, when it comes to education, they find a lot of challenges, academically and socially,” he explained.
“But if they contact the right people and get the right support, their chances of success are much higher. We are trying to create that support system for males at the College.”
About 250 young men aged between 16 and 24 are expected to attend the summit on Saturday, March 24, from 9.45am to 5pm. It is free and supported by Ace and Bermuda College Foundation.
Students aged 15 to 16 or over should ask their guidance departments for registration forms. Males interested in attending who are not involved in associated school programmes can get a form by e-mailing ljackson[AT]college.bm.
Bermuda College Menspeak members who have helped organise this month’s youth summit gave their thoughts on why young men should attend.
“The theme is the important part of the event: ‘Why You? Why Now?’
“It will help young men who attend to look to the future and draw their own map. The event will help set them on a straight path and open their eyes so that they can see what they want to do and how to make it happen. This is a must attend event and you will not be disappointed.”
“We’ve all needed something to keep us focused, something that keeps us supported and tied down to the ground when all elements say ‘give up’.
“Well, that’s what Menspeak is. What only started as an ‘elective’ class in my first year of college, Menspeak has now become a part of the personal foundation of my character.
“It is more than just a class, it is more than just a platform of respectful expression among other males; Menspeak is brotherhood.
“With the Menspeak Youth Summit nearing, the timing of the conference could not have been any better. Males need to take responsibility for their role in the community and become more involved. They need to understand who they are.
“Young males need this summit. They need the support, they need the direction, and young men today need the platform in order to express themselves which allows them to not only be heard, but also mentored in the direction to which they most desire.”
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