Co-educational institutes might not be considered a subject for heated debate in many parts of the world but it definitely seems to be the concern of many people in Pakistan, whether it be your parents, their parents, their siblings, their cousins, your cousins or even the occasional Aunty who comes around to your house for the nothing but the gossip and free chai.[newsletter_lock]
This, I must emphasize is no exaggeration.
If you’re someone who goes to a co-ed school, college or university you have probably been caught in the middle of a crossfire between the two sides of this debate. One party argues that it promotes immorality, will definitely distract you from focusing on your classes, will give way to more freedom than what is necessary and will plant the outlandish ideas in your untrained mind. It’s interesting to note how these arguments are laced with hyperbole and are essentially a slippery slope.
Aunty X (if you will pardon the generalization) will tell your mother about some unknown student who went to a co-ed school, in a horrified whisper.
It started off innocently enough, she will say whilst shaking her head, but soon enough the child started going out with their friends, disrespecting parents, missing classes, getting involved in alcohol and drugs, rebelling against their parents and finally emerging from this den of immorality as someone who society will fail to accept as their own.
However, is this the reality? Are co-educational institutes as sinister as they are made out to be or is society once more using rare case-studies as an excuse to discourage parents from enrolling their children in co-ed schools?
The other side of the debate brings up some important points in favor of co-education that we should take a moment to consider. Co-ed institutions are better able to prepare your children for the real world; once they graduate from these institutions, they will be required to interact with those of the opposite sex and furthermore, people from different backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, and religion. Spending time in a co-ed environment is able to shape them through experience to better cope with their practical and professional life. The mistakes they make, the information they gather from different experiences in this phase will prevent any egregious errors in practical life, where such errors are often considered unacceptable.
One should also keep in mind that studying in such an environment promotes a healthy mindset that has its roots in equilibrium. Certain general characteristics that may be seen as undesirable in boys such as aggression, boorishness will be neutralized by the calming influence of the other sex and vice versa. This not only allows for children to be better observers but enables them to learn more both from and about their counterparts.
Plato, the famous Greek philosopher, himself supported the idea of co-education which can be seen in the fact that two females were students at his established Academy, an idea that is astonishingly advanced as compared to the socio-cultural environment of Greece at the time. Observing children in a co-ed environment is fascinating since you will notice how children learn from each other and help each other understand the world better by giving two perspectives for any given situation.
Raising your child in a realistic environment that provides plenty of room for growth and development is bound to pay off in the long-term. While stories of students going awry in co-ed institutions are not unheard of, it’s important to understand that you have to trust and care for your child instead of depriving them of such opportunities for education. It is only when you encourage children to fully experience the world in all its entirety that you enable them to be compassionate, empathetic, kind and thoughtful learners.
If you’re about to begin studying at a co-ed school, don’t worry about fitting in. The transition will be smoother than you think and you’ll soon feel comfortable and ready to face the world at large. The key is to be open to learning from new experiences, growing with changing times and being ready to change your paradigms if need be,
co-education in Pakistan definitely isn’t as sinister as many people might have tricked you into thinking!