Celebrating co-ed in the state’s middle schools

Co-educational schools provide a much more realistic model of training boys and girls to interact with members of the opposite sex and promote healthy social relationships that help curb gender stereotypes.

Is co-education beneficial to the students? The main aim of a recently carried out survey clearly shows that by and large, students and parents feel that the introduction of co-ed schools was a step in the right direction.

1,938 students, 400 teachers and 844 parents responded to the survey and the analysis of the data yielded very interesting results.

Eight out of ten students reported that they are happy at school. They feel that co-education is a nice experience and they feel proud that they are part of this new system. They praise the administration as well as the teachers and say that they are enjoying their lessons more. The students are also happy with the new schools’ environment and the various activities that are held by their “gentle” teachers.

Teachers do not feel the same way. Only one in four teachers feels that the students are generally doing well and almost half of those surveyed think that co-education has not made any difference, which at least means things have not got worse, as feared by opponents of co-ed. Twenty-one per cent feel that their students are underachieving in a co-educational setting.

A good percentage of teachers (78%) reported that they have settled down teaching in this co-ed environment. The major concerns expressed by teachers include a feeling that the transition was too quick, and the question of discipline, wherein some teachers feel that there is a certain lack of respect as well as the fact that some teachers feel that certain boys and girls do not want to cooperate and as such try to disrupt classes.

Some also feel that they require more resources, especially during breaks. Teachers believe that smaller classes would give them better control and that more human resources are necessary. We will use the results of this survey to see how we can help in specific classes and schools to improve the situation.

This contrasts sharply with the views of parents and guardians. In fact 91% are generally satisfied with their child’s co-education experience and only 1.5% declared dissatisfaction with the school and the system. Most parents feel that this is a workable system and that their children integrate quicker. Their children seem to be very happy and learning a lot.

They were also full of praise for the dedication of the school administration and the teachers. Parents and guardians were in favour of school discipline and in general, they feel happy with the regulations that the school has put in place; but there were some concerns about the lack of discipline during certain lessons and the attitude of a number of boys.

Some emphasised the foul language that some boy students use. A number of parents were critical of the many free lessons and they feel that more support teachers are required to minimise the occurrence; that students have little homework and of the heavy school bags that their children have to carry.

Parents and guardians also recommended more hands on learning, fun activities and videos. It is felt that more should be done to eliminate bullying and that there should be more supervision, especially between lessons. The installation of CCTV cameras was also suggested.

The advantages of co-ed high schools extend far beyond the classroom. As adults we work together without any gender differences. Co-educational schools provide a much more realistic model of training boys and girls to interact with members of the opposite sex and promote healthy social relationships that help curb gender stereotypes.

Evarist Bartolo is Minister of Education and Employment

More in Blogs