The debate on co-ed

Let there be co-educational as well as gender-based colleges
The debate on co-ed

Co-education is a system of education in which both men andwomen attend the same institution and classes under the same roof. Co-educationhas a long history from the time of Plato who vehemently advocated this idea tothe present when most of the countries in the world have adopted co-educationsystem. The co-education is very much common in the western world and widelyseen in India as well. In the United States alone except for a few dozensingle-gender institutions all 5,000 colleges/universities are coeds and nobodybothers to call them coeds. It is true that co-education system encouragesstronger sense of competition among boys and girls in the same classroom givingthem more motivation to work towards their goals besides being economical asthe Govt cannot open colleges for girls everywhere. However, there arearguments that co-education causes trouble in the learning process. A separateeducation system for both girls and boys can provide a more structured learningenvironment where attitudes and emotions of the students can remain undercontrol and that it can help students to perform better. The co-education atschool or at the university level is not an issue, however, at the collegelevel it is turning out to be a nuisance.

There are arguments from sensible people that education ismust for both boys and girls but not necessarily in the same classroom or aninstitution. At the school level, there is no reason to educate boys and girlsseparately considering their innocence when they want to play, and learntogether. The problem really starts growing from Matric onwards when boys andgirls enter the period of adolescence. Even then the boys and the girls havenot enough maturity level about the life. They remain under the awe and respectof their parents and teachers. Besides, most of the students remain engrossedpreparing for cracking professional exams. I have vivid memories of the timewhen I was a student of 11-12th class at a co-educational higher secondaryinstitute. The teaching learning process at the institute was excellent; theatmosphere was competitive, full of mental and emotional situations. The boysmost often would do better because of the presence of girls and some girlswanted to show the boys that they are equally smart. The boys would like todraw the attention of girls in the classroom by posing questions to the teacherand vice-versa. No doubt there was a feeling of attraction towards the oppositesex but there was nothing of bad or immoral thoughts in the mind. It was fullwith emotions and that was all natural. Except the day today minor issues, eventoday there is not any kind of serious problem with the system of co-education.

The things really take a different shape in colleges whenyoungsters are going through physical and psychological changes. The studentsare supposed to be mature enough to take their own decisions. They arevirtually free with less control of parents and teachers. The academics andteaching-learning process is not that serious and the students bunk classes.College life is a thrilling experience with a lot of fun and joy but at thesame time there is a greater responsibility of building the confidence andcareer. The students in presence of the opposite sex remain more consumed byhow they appear to them than focusing on academics. There are chances thatyoung boys and girls may fall a victim to their emotions, go in the wrongdirection as they get more opportunities that may ruin their career. I rememberduring my tenure at GDC Sopore 1998-2001 then a purely co-educationalinstitution, I never ever found any sort of indiscipline, rowdiness on the partof either gender that would cause distraction in the classroom or in thecollege. The boys/girls would feel it awkward to indulge in gossiping. Theywould respect and behave properly with each other. It was because of the strongleadership influence created by the then the Principal Prof M A Charoo in thecampus. That kind of set-up if present today would definitely provide a healthyatmosphere for both girls and boys on the same platform.

The world today has migrated into the world of virtualreality where social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter,U-tube, Instagram have become our existential reality. With the readilyavailable internet data at cheap rates, the students too are in the race. Theaddiction and the misuse of social media and other forbidden sites has weaved acocoon around which is eating into their vitals.  Even when the colleges   have banned the use of mobile phones in thecampus, one can notice most of the boys and girls carrying this device openlyin their hands, either engaged in talks or searching on the internet. The lackof discipline, unserious academics with real/virtual worlds nearby, we arewitnessing a growing indiscipline among students in the co-educationalinstitutions.

The teacher's primary job is to deliver lectures in theclassrooms, set lab- experiments in order; off course they are responsible fortheir classroom discipline. They cannot monitor each and every student inthousands who enter the campus gate every morning. We should not create anotherfront for teachers to deal with that may not be good for our future.

I do not advocate discouraging co-education in the colleges.Let there be co-educational as well as gender-based colleges. Let the collegesfor women remain for women and vice versa in the cities as well as in towns.Let committed boys and girls come to the college for education and focus ontheir studies. In the recent past we have converted our gender-based heritagecolleges into coeds. Let us revert them to their old status. These premiercolleges are there for centuries and stand for our culture, traditional valuesand ethics. The point I want to make is that higher educational institutionsare places to develop the faculties and to promote intellectual growth; itshould not become the intellectual and moral wasteland. There has to be somelevel of serious discipline within the campus. Education and life are twodifferent things and students need to take control of their vulnerabilities.The college life is the most important time to learn about the whole world andascertain one's future. In conclusion, the colleges should not become theplaces to fragment our society rather it should produce responsible,charactered and mature individuals to preserve our values and ethos.

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