Speech on Co-education

Outline:

  • Introduction: a living controversy: nature and extent of the controversy
  • Arguments against co-education: dangers of free mixing: need of the separate type of education for girls
  • Advocacy for co-education: an inescapable economic expedient
  • Synthesis consideration of the issue on practical grounds
  • Safeguards to be provided
  • Conclusion: need of a trial

One of the living controversies of our time, particularly in our country, is co-education, by which is meant the education of boys and girls under the same roof. The issue is perfectly settled so far as primary education is concerned. In the college and the university stage, it is passively tolerated. But in the secondary stage co-education is actively opposed. In fact, the controversy about co-education all over the world mainly centers around the secondary stage of education. Even in those countries, notably the USA, where co-education has been introduced in all stages of public instruction, its soundness in the second stage is being widely doubted and debated upon. And in our country co-education even in the college and the university, though tolerated, is yet subject to a wide range of opposition.

The opposition to co-education is based in the main on two arguments. Firstly, it is advanced that boys and girls being allowed to mix freely run every risk of going astray and suffering the total frustration of their educational career. These consequences are apprehended because at this period–the period of adolescence’s both boys and girls remain very sentimental, romantic, effusively and inflammable. On the other hand, they possess no power to resist the tide of emotion. Instances are drawn from America to show the extent of harm done by the introduction of secondary co-education in that country where large number of boys and girls are said to love and marry before leaving the school. Reference is also made to the co-education of our colleges and universities where it has not yielded altogether happy results. Secondly, it is contended that girls should receive a different type of education from that given to boy’s, because their spheres of activities in the practical life are widely different. As co-education in essence means that girls will be educated in boy’s institutions under a scheme of education primarily meant to suit the needs of the latter the education of girls under this system is bound to remain imperfect. It would not, therefore, equip them to face the battle of life with success.

The advocacy for co-education is based chiefly on economic considerations. Maintenance of separate institutions for boys and girls is a costly affair. This is particularly so in rural areas where even boys’ schools suffer for want of a sufficient number of students. It is also pointed out that most of the village girls having crossed the primary stage find it compelling to give up their studies for want of school. As regards college education, a separate college for girls is extremely difficult to be maintained without heavy Government subsidy except in a city of the standard of Dacca or Karachi. Hence co-education is claimed to be essential if our girls are to be education is claimed to be essential if our girls are to be educated.

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Viewed from the practical standpoint, the problem may be reduced to a simpler one than it ordinarily appears. There is no doubt or denial that the crying need of the hour is the widest diffusion of female education at least up to the Matriculation standard. It is all the more necessary for the lower-middle-class people for two reasons. Firstly, their educated wives and daughters are needed to earn and supplement the low income of the family. Such earning capacity also makes easy the matrimonial’s settlement of girls. Secondly, middle class educated boys of the day hardly agree to marry girls who have not at least completed the secondary education. To meet these all, particularly in the face of our economic circumstances,” co-education is evidently the best expedient because this alone can keep education within the reach of all who need it.

Then, against the oft-cited harms of co-education, its various other benefits too should be measured. In the long run, boys and girls are to live and move in society together and fight the battle of life jointly. Would it not be to the interest of both to bring them closer at an early stage so that they may gradually get used to each other and thus get rid of the unhealthy sex curiosity and craze from which most of our boys and girls living in isolation suffer. A grown-up boy would also find greater stimulus in the company of a grown-up girl. He would be more smart, more politc and more civil when his bchaviour is observed by the opposite sex. The closer association of both would also help to create an atmosphere of hcalthy rivalry and inspire them to emulate each other’s virtucs. It some of them happen to come still closer and develop emotional attachment for each other, it may also do good in many cases. Who can deny that a girl has been gifted with tremendous powers to influence a boy’s course of life? She can inspire him to success, resist his failure and also restrain him from evil ways.

So, it is evident that co-education is not entirely fraughtła with dangers. It is equally rich in immense prospects. What is, therefore, necessary is to provide safeguards against its misuse so that society can benefit from it without any harm. To that end, separate benches may be provided for the boys and girls. The girls’ block may even be isolated by a breast-high partition. Like their common room, girls should have a separate playground. Wherever available, male and female teachers should constitute the staff. This will facilitate the enforcement of general discipline as also make the girls feel at home. Their precautions are, however, necessary for the secondary schools where the system is to be introduced almost anew. As to the college, the system has already been universally popular by virtue of showing good results. And at the university level co-education is so firmly seated that no discussion about it need ever be called for. In fine, human society is progressing by leaps and bounds. To oppose co-education now would be to try to put the clock back which can never produce good to the society. Apart from the colleges and universities of our country, co-education prevails in all the missionary schools and convents and also in some national high schools, without any large-scale harm resulting to anybody.

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