Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Gender Separation in Education Necessary?

Recently, a story surfaced on that the revolutionary government in Zenji is contempleting an education system where girls and boys will be separated. If you think I am kidding, check out the story for yourself here.

The Zenji government's thinking is that the separation of female students from male students will enhance or improve moral standards and academic performance among female students. Rings a bell anyone? That sounds like a typical African thinking. To be more precise, a Bongoland thinking. And to be honest with you, that kind of thinking sucks.

This line of thinking is problematic and regressive (as opposed to progressive) because it is based on purely cultural norms that, in my opinion, do not fit in our current state of the world. Furthermore, the decision lacks any scientific merit. I am not aware of any scientific studies that have made a definite conclusion that females performs better when separated from boys. Contrary to the Zenji government's point of view, I believe that girls are better off academically when paired with boys. In my opinion, this decision smells more of politics than anything else, bound to hurt our children than help them.

Both male and female students are bound to be hurt by this decision because school is a place to learn not only academic stuff, but it is a place to learn social skills. It is a place for both boys and girls to develop some social coping mechanisms. I can guess rationale behind the morality argument, but is a shortsighted thinking, as students participate in society at large after school. If the government is afraid that girls will be sexually active because they are mixed with boys, that is a myopic view. The reality is that there are sugar daddies and other older folks who prey on girls more than the boy classmates. Haven't they heard of stories where a 15 years old girl is forced to marry a 70 years old man? Ensuring that both boys and girls maintain some kind of sexual morality will not be achieved through some sort of governmental decisions. I strongly believe that parental guidance and spiritual leadership can do that.

From a political side of things, this decision is nothing more than sexist. I mean, this is 2006. Do we still have to draw policies along gender lines? I think females have proven themselves enough to be regarded equally, at least in the academic realms. Don't we have female ministers in Tanzania who are PhD holders? Can we justify and conclude that these women were able to achieve these academic accolades because they studied in isolation from male counterparts?

The worse part is the fact many higher learning institutions are co-ed. Given that fact, the government should create an education environment in the elementary and secondary level that is preparing the future university and college students of social realities. Such realities include the fact that almost all work places are of mixed gender. I am not aware of private and government offices which are separated for males and females only.

I will say it again. It appears that there is an epidemic of shortsightedness in our political leadership in Tanzania. Some of the decisions that the government makes have no "kichwa wala miguu", and I wonder why we are confident of achieving the Vision 2025. The decision to have separate classes for male and female students is among those stupid mistakes that the government has or will make.

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