A new program seeks to increase the number of girls participating in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math...
It used to be that women were only expected to be plain housewives, with their interests limited only to reading books, writing, crafting, and other things done around the house. Science was too “geeky”, and not for girls.
But now, women are not only part of the workforce, but are continuously stepping up to modernization as they also engage in STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in schools and even in professions.
To further strengthen the participation of girls and women in STEM, Miriam College developed a project called Project COGENT (Cooperation for Girls, Education, Nurturance, and Training). Held from July 19 to 20, it gathered different girls’ schools from all over the country and was the venue for the launch of the Philippine Alliance for Girls’ Education (PAGE), a network of basic education schools hosted by Miriam College that will work towards the empowerment of girls and young women.
Out of 22 girls’ schools in the Philippines, 14 schools participated and sent their representatives for the event. These schools are Assumption Antipolo, Assumption College, San Lazaro, Colegio de Sta. Rosa, Makati, Notre Dame of Tacurong School for Girls, Sultan Kudarat, PAREF Rosehill School, PAREF Woodrose School, Saint Pedro Poveda College, St. Bridget’s School, St. Scholastica’s Academy, Marikina, St. Scholastica’s College, Manila, St. Scholastica’s College, Westgrove, St. Therese College, Cebu City, St. Theresa’s College, Quezon City, and Miriam College, Quezon City.
THE NUMBERS ON GENDER
According to Dr. Edizon A. Fermin, principal of Miriam College High School and Project COGENT manager, girls are interested in STEM subjects but the interest dwindles because they are not encouraged to study these subjects.
This is ironic, as Fermin presented a study conducted from 2004 to 2009 measuring basic education performance by sex. The study revealed that the female has a higher completion rate of studying in both elementary and secondary school for six years and the male has higher drop-out rate than the female.
Last 2009, female elementary pupils had a 77.5 percent completion rate compared to the male who has 67.4 percent. The drop-out rate for males was 7.5 percent compared to the females 4.9 percent.
In secondary school, females had a 78.3 percent completion rate while the male had 69.1 percent and the drop-out rate of male is 9.7 percent while the female only had 6.2 percent.
For its part, Miriam College is engaging its students in STEM, encouraging out of the box thinking, as well as actively boosting a girl’s confidence and performance in STEM. Miriam College also engages them in activities that will represent STEM’s application in the real world, develops their creativity in projects using their creativity, talent, learning, and styles, collaborates with the students to share the ideas and develop solutions together, and inspires the girls through women role models who have made an impact in the fields of STEM.
THE WAY ONE TEACHES
Project COGENT also highlighted how much of an impact the school’s male and female population has on the learning abilities of girls.
Teachers attending the event observed that girls participate well in class in a girls’ exclusive school than in a co-ed school. They feel more secure when they are with the same gender, unlike being in a co-ed school where they tend to be afraid of being judged by what they might say.
“Confident ang lalake when it comes to math. Girls do talk but they are not confident with the subject, but in the exclusive girls’ school, the girls are much eager and confident to recite and participate in school works,” shares Kemberly Jacaban, who taught at a co-ed school before teaching in St. Therese College High School Department – Cebu.
A co-ed school and an exclusive girls’ school also have different approaches to treating their students. In an exclusive girls school, students are treated with gentleness and care.
“The way we teach girls in an exclusive girls’ school is the same as co-ed schools but the way we treat girls are different. Pag sila ang nasa classroom, possibilities are limitless. Girls are expressive and limitless in performing school works,” says Ruby Anne Asumbrado, a high school teacher in St. Therese College High School Department – Cebu
According to Fermin, Miriam College and other girls’ schools also use the ethics of care, where girls feel more confident and safe to express their opinions, instead of the ethics of justice where rules are laid down strictly. Since they are all girls, they feel more secure being in the same group of girls than being in a classroom of boys and girls.
Girls learn best in small, interactive classes, in experience based educational activities, leadership training programs where they learn to take risks; speak what they know; discover their talents and abilities; gain knowledge about girl topics; learn to ask questions; and discover the courage between them. Girls also learn best through great mentors.
The students in girls’ schools are often found with higher academic self-confidence even in Mathematical activity and Computer skills, greater interest in Engineering careers, stronger disposition towards co-curricular engagement, and greater political engagement.
PUBLISHED AT: Manila Bulletin Online >>