The co-ed conundrum in Pakistan

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
"when will roll no be issued for SSC(composite) supply exams 2009 pls anyone email me reply."
Name: student
City, Country: UAE

"Islam is the only religion in three major religions which gave women their rights more than thousand years ago. I migrated from Pakistan, when I was a teen ager. I have lived in America for the last 35 years .I have been part of both cultures. We have some values (or used to have some values) in Eastern culture. Where women acted in moderation in public and they had appropriate clothing. They had a balanced education both in religion and secular subjects. I have seen Western culture and exploitation of women. In Eastern culture you protect sanctity of your family especially women. In Western culture you put your women on the pedestal like a commodity for everyone to see. I am not very conservative, but I have found out that Eastern culture is better than Western culture in the treatment and exploitation of women. As for as educating women, mothers lap is the first schooling a child gets. An educated and righteous mother is extremely important. I am convinced by looking at both cultures that Elementary Education can be co-education and then college should be a co-education. Because men and women are comparatively more mature after finishing 12th grade (F. Sc.) and I hope more responsible. When I started college in USA, I found women so aggressive that I used to blush when talking to them and they used to laugh about it. Eastern culture is one extreme and Western culture is another extreme. The answer lies in moderation. I wanted to share my personal feelings with the next generation. Women are abused in both cultures, but if you compare all the details Eastern culture treats women better as a whole. My advice is keep your values and do not be blinded by the Western culture it is a mirage ."
Name: Agha Pervaiz
City, Country: Montgomery, AL

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