‘Better English lands more girls than boys in college’
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
WONDER why there are more girls than boys in tertiary level institutions in the sultanate?
A study by Halimaturradiah Metussin of Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) published in the Review of European Studies last year cited that good command of English could be a factor in the gender imbalance in colleges or universities.
The study, titled ‘Gender Imbalance in Brunei Tertiary Education Student Populations: Exploring English Language, Self-Efficacy and Coping Mechanisms as Possible Causes’, covered 330 students from six Sixth Form Centres.
Other variables that were investigated include Mathematics, self-efficacy and coping strategies.
The study noted that other factors such as home environment, teaching effectiveness, school quality, the nature of the curriculum, assessment procedures and language difficulties might have expanded the findings.
Poor achievement amongst male students in their O Level English and Mathematics, which persisted into their AS Level and A Levels, contributed to the gender imbalance, the study said.
“Since tertiary institutions in Brunei often include GCE O Level (General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level) English and Mathematics among their admission criteria, this has in turn resulted in fewer males than females being admitted to colleges and universities,” the study said.
The study said that poor performance in English might be attributed to unsatisfactory teaching, inadequate or inappropriate learning resources, low interest or motivation in the subject, and ineffective test preparation.
It added, however, that the government, through the Ministry of Education, has already “made substantial efforts at improving the quality of education in the country”.
According to the study, careful analyses of student enrolments have indicated no significant gender differences at three levels of the education system where students learn or study the same subjects, namely primary school stage (Years 1 to 6), lower secondary cycle (Year 7 to 8), and GCE O Level (Years 9 to 11).
The study also found that low English scorers tend to use an ‘avoidance-oriented’ coping style when it comes to dealing with stress or problems.
“Low English scorers prefer to distract themselves away from the problem, for example by watching television or calling a friend, rather than taking problem-solving actions directly,” the study said.
The Brunei Times