March 2009: Spare a thought for the children of Swat. Their schools have been razed to the ground for reasons that are as confounding as a hypocrite's mind. How can you prevent children from acquiring a decent education? How can an act of learning prove antagonistic to any faith, creed or system? Aversion to education breeds barbarism and savagery. There's no need to prove that. We have ample examples of it all around us.
rly, girls are often seen indulging in trivialities when they're under no gender pressure. But in a non-segregated place each sex becomes more confident; and they mingle with each other in a less stressed out or pretentious manner," says Sumera Asim.
"I remember when I was in college - not a mixed-sex one - girls would go absolutely bonkers if a boy entered our building. It would be like a rare occasion.
"As far as the hazards associated with the co-ed system go, I think they can be easily taken care of by being administratively tough and by keeping a vigilant eye on students," she says.
Tazeen Erum highlights the downsides of the co-ed structure but insists that its positive points heavily outweigh the negative ones. "Girls can get obsessed with the other sex and try and attract unnecessary attention, whereas boys sometimes get overshadowed by girls' progress and brilliance at studies. However, this is no big deal. This can be managed," she says.
This brings us to the students' perspective. What do they make of the issue?
Mashal, doing her A' Levels at a distinguished school that has at least a century-old history, says, "It is very important to acquire education at a co-ed institution. You learn to deal with the other sex in a better way. I know girls who say talking to guys has made them more confident. Besides, we don't live in a uni-gender world. When we go out, we have to mingle with all kinds of people. So you have to learn to deal with all situations. The human race has progressed a lot. It's time we put an end to this debate."
But what about reports of moral misconduct emanating from some renowned schools? To this Mashal responds, "Recently our school administration came down hard on some boys and girls who were involved in activities unbecoming of them. The administration asked them to leave. And they did. Then there were some students whose offence was not too worrying, but the administration even suspended them. Ever since there haven't been any such reports. So things can be controlled."
However, Mashal acknowledges that each gender should be cognizant of its limits. There are certain definite lines that they must never cross. It's by traversing those lines that things go awry.
Ostensibly, there doesn't seem to be a major issue vis-à-vis the co-ed setup. It's the collective mindset that needs to be changed. As a society, we have always harboured preconceived notions - be it the realm of culture, history or education. And it's these predetermined ideas that hamper our growth as a nation with a forward-looking approach to life.
Nations have defied gravity and explored the infinite vastness of space, with men and women aboard their spaceships. They have produced Nobel laureates representing both genders. Their men and women have invented life-saving drugs. The co-ed conundrum is so passé for them. So should it be for us as well. - By Peerzada Salman (Dawn)Your Comments
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