Co-education is a system of educating boys and girls together. In ancient times, co-education was prevalent in Greece. Today, this system of education is there in almost all the countries of the world. It is economical. It generates a spirit of comradeship between boys and girls.
The problem of shortage of trained teachers can be dealt with by this system. Boys overcome their curiosity and girls, their shyness. They learn to respect one another. Though a few conservative people are against this system, their views do not hold ground. Co-education generates harmonious relationship, a sense of co-operation, and thus, helps in the progress of the nation.
Co-education is a system of educating boys and girls together. In ancient times, co-education existed in Sparta in Greece. There was no discrimination between boys and girls. They studied and played together. Along with academic education, physical training was also given to both the sexes.
Plato, the Greek philosopher, believed that co-education helped in the development of personality of both men and women and created a feeling of comradeship among them. He felt that co-education was the only method to make both men and women useful members of society. Hence, in the west, the importance of co-education has been felt since ancient times.
In early Vedic Society (Ancient India), co-education was prevalent in a few places. But gradually female education began to be ignored. Moreover, the system of education was quite different from that of today. The boys stayed in Gurukuls, for the whole educational period. There they received both in academic education and physical training. The former included the study of the scriptures and the latter, training in warfare. Girls were not sent to the Gurukuls, and thus were deprived of the benefits of education.
In medieval India, those belonging to lower castes and the womenfolk were not allowed to attend schools or study the scriptures. Raja Rammohan Roy, great social reformer and scholar, fought against this practice and succeeded in his mission. His job was further carried on by other social reformers.
Today, co-education is prevalent in almost all the countries of the world. In India, there are a number of co-educational schools, colleges and universities.
There are a number of advantages in the co-educational system of education. It is economical. Poor countries cannot afford to open separate schools for boys and girls. If boys and girls are taught together in the same school, then there will be no need to open separate schools for them. Thus, the cost to be incurred on building infrastructure, furniture, stationery, personnel recruitment, etc. will be saved.
There is a shortage of good trained teachers in developing countries like India. If there is co-education, same staff can teach both boys and girls at the same time in the same class, and the problem of shortage can be dealt with. Establishing more of co-educational schools can help in spreading literacy even with the limited teaching staff and infrastructure. Thus, it will be beneficial for both boys and girls and the nation as a whole.
Co-education helps the boys and girls to intermingle and understand each other well. They become more broad-minded and tolerant towards the opposite gender. They interact freely with one another, thereby overcoming hesitation and shyness. Thus, co-education leads to a healthy and harmonious relationship between boys and girls.
In a co-educational school, boys are free to meet and talk with girls. They develop a feeling of friendship among themselves. Boys then, usually don’t indulge in eve-teasing. Co-education contributes to the balanced development of the personality of boys and girls.
A new study has revealed that the co-educational schools are better as the presence of girls in classes restrains boys from indulging in unruly behavior and improves their academic performance. Infact, a higher percentage of girls not only lowers the amount of classroom disruption but also fosters a better relationship between students and their teachers. The researchers found that classes with more than 55% of girls resulted in better exam results and less violent outbursts overall. Boys with more female peers in their classes showed higher enrolment rates in both advanced mathematics and science classes, but overall benefits were found in all grades for both sexes. They conclude that this effect is due to the positive influence, the girls are adding to the classroom environment.
Infact the study found that primary school classrooms with a female majority showed increased academic success for both boys and girls. In the middle and high schools, the classrooms which had the best academic achievements overall were consistently those that had a higher proportion of girls enrolled. The researchers suggest that boys and girls may learn differently, but it is better not to send them to sex-segregated schools.
Boys become conscious of their dressing habits, behavior and the style girls. They work hard to remain ahead of one another. Co-education reduces gender bias in the society. It generates a feeling of equality between both and sexes. The feeling of male dominance may be wiped out from the society if this system of education is given importance.
However, some people are opposed to the system of co-education. According to them, this system is against the Indian culture and tradition. It is also argued that girls feel more free in an institution which is meant only for girls. As such they have greater scope of developing their personality. They also participate in sports, dramatics and debates more freely.
Teachers of some subjects like Biology also find it easier to explain some chapters more thoroughly if only girls or only boys are sitting in the class. Sex education has also been introduced and in co-educational schools even teachers find it difficult to discuss such topics in the class.
It is also felt that since students (especially teenagers 13-19 years of age) are of impressionable age, the possibility of their going astray is much more in co-educational institutions, where they enjoy more freedom of intermingling with the other sex. They also do not remain focused on studies.
It should be acknowledged that in the fast changing society of twenty first century co-education has to become the order of the day. Today girls are entering all professions in large numbers. Many of them are heading big organizations. Co-education will help young boys and girls to mix freely and understand one another better. Today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens. We must encourage them to develop their personality in a free healthy atmosphere. Girls no more have to remain confined to the four walls of the house. Co-education will help both sexes to learn and work together for the progress of the country.