No To Single-Sex Schools
|Caribbean School Children|
Some of our well intentioned Caribbean citizens are blaming co-education as the fountain from which many of our problems within the school system and society springs. We beg to respectfully differ. In their zeal to solve the problems, they are calling for the re-introduction of single-sex schools. This will be an extremely backward step, taking into consideration, limited resources and the fact that there is no empirical evidence that co-education has caused any widespread problems within our Caribbean school system.
The forerunner to the call for the reintroduction of single –sex schools, was the unfair blame put on female teachers by those who claim, that our female teachers are favoring the girl students and “turning the boys into sissies”. As ludicrous as this essentially sexist position is; it has gained considerable momentum within some Caribbean countries. Those who hold this position have buttressed their claim by pointing to the fact that girls, especially at the primary school level, were doing better in the elitist eleven plus exams that are used to transfer our children to secondary schools. We have unapologetically denounced these exams in a recent article.
They opine that the girls are distracting influences on the boy students and that the boys are not paying attention in class. They also forcibly argue that boys develop much slower than girls and the added distraction is a double blow and obstacle to their progress. Again, there is no empirical evidence to fortify their positions but that does not deter the purveyors of this argument.
We are of the view that for the last twenty five years or so, our Caribbean women have been taking advantage of the many opportunities available to improve their education. The young men have found more comfort in sitting on the block, waiting on opportunity to drop like manna from the heavens. They are then enticed into involvement in drugs and other aspects of social deviancy. The crime statistics will support our position.
We fail to understand, how single sex schools or more male teachers will in any profound way stop the negative trends that our now enveloping our boys, who will eventually become the men in our societies. Also, it is rather interesting that the Caribbean , has very few women in the highest political offices(Prime Ministers) who can actually influence education strategy but we want to blame women for the failures. We still have a male dominated political culture and they are proving to be rather inferior leaders at this point in time. Why blame our women if the men cannot get it right?
Furthermore, single –sex schools will have to deal with the changing social trends in relation to homosexual students and so on. Those who believe that single sex schools will mean students having less interest in sex are basing their limited view on heterosexual activity but we have to realize that in single sex schools sexual activity/curiosity will not decrease – it will just be homosexual.
It is therefore clear that on all counts, the reintroduction of single sex schools will not have any dramatically positive influence or results. The world has changed since the days when it was thought that women were mere sex objects and nothing more than distractions. We need to accept that the advances made by women over the last fifty years have been more of a benefit to our men than a curse.
We strongly believe that our young Caribbean citizens must continue to study together, work together and build the New Caribbean Nation. Separating them at young and impressionable ages would rob them of the modern socialization process that will stand them in good stead as they move into manhood and womanhood.
Let us not panic and turn back the clock in order to appease those who simply yearn for what they call the “good old days”. We have to remind them that there are better days ahead. Our boys and girls are doing quite well learning, playing and co-existing in their school environments. Let us resist single sex schools and continue with co-education.