The concern – whether co-education is the right choice or not for schools in India – has been raised time and again. Popular misconceptions and failure to address the issue properly has distorted the general opinion. We cannot provide a complete analysis of the issue at hand in just one article and that is why we have restricted ourselves on some core aspects of the problem.
The first and foremost concern is whether student or child abuse is affected by the mere presence of boys and girls in the school. If we have a careful look at the situation we will note that the real problem is not the school or co-education in India but the entire education system.
Schools are meant to be the institutions were children are to be educated. Though social mixing does happen and students make their peer groups, but the school is not to encourage any other social standing. Both boys and girls may receive education in the same school and in many cases in the same class.
It becomes a case specific because of two reasons. One, lack of sex education and lack of awareness on sensitive topics for different gender. Both boys and girls can receive the education, if the authorities and academicians feel that there is a big gap, separately. Once the students have attained a level of maturity they can be taught together.
The second reason for its being case specific is the development of the children as they grow. From class VIII onwards various physiological and psychological changes take place, which comes as a surprise to the children. It is adolescence and the young students are much curious to know things. The increased curiosity, activity, emotional development, etc., all happens at a rapid pace and its natural. Segregation of boys and girls at this level may be a part of the solution or an alternative, which can be debated.
The system fails when proper education is not provided at the right time and proper measures are not taken. In a typical situation, the teacher comes in the classroom and tries to be evasive on the subject, making both boys and girls feel embarrassed and increasing their nervousness. Over a period of time the adolescents develop curiosity and are prone to carry their own notions.
There is a lot that can be taught in the classrooms. But people hardly understand that. Schools can condition the youth if only qualified people deal with it in the right manner. Such qualified people are very much required if coeducation has to disentangle itself from the criticisms.
Co-education in India should not be discouraged, just because people fail to install the proper system or apparatus. Instead we should look for new ways that would remove disparities and inequalities.