The dilemma of choosing between co-education and single gender education is faced by every parent at some point of time, especially when it comes to admitting their girl child to school.
We've all come across different notions attached to same sex institutions.
While on one hand, experts claim that single gender schools prove to be actually empowering for girls, there are others who deny this by saying that such a kind of segregated education isn't holistic.
Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to understand the true worth as well as need of same sex institutions.
THE EDGE OVER CO-EDUCATION: Over the past few decades, numerous researches have shown that girls think, interact, display leadership and make decisions differently than their male counterparts. To cater to this need, an all girls' school, by subtracting boys, adds a myriad of opportunities. A girl occupies every role, every post of the student council, every part of the play and every position in every team! Thus, girls voice out their opinions without the slightest hesitation and are more likely to be heard as well as recognised.
Bhavya Kharoo, an alumnus of CARMEL CONVENT SCHOOL, NEW DELHI goes on to say that, "The paradox, that is a same sex school is actually quite liberating than what it is stereotyped to be. The most unorthodox teachers, both male and female, debunked myths about the female gender at our school. Feminism was ingrained in us right from the start while we were taught to respect the others genders equally (cisgenders and transgenders alike).Education was duly holistic and extra-curriculars were given a lot of importance. All in all, there is very little that your child misses out on going to a same sex school. Instead, they learn to stand up for their rights and live with dignity!"
However, when girls and boys are together, they tend to exaggerate the gender differences which is a very robust phenomenon referred to as "gender intensification" or more generally as "group contrast effects." In co-ed schools, each sex monopolizes its sex stereotyped tasks and behaviour. So the sex that really needs to practice new things never gets the opportunity.
Thus, co-ed schools support and increase the old traditional roles whereas girls' only schools try to break away from these.
DEBUNKING THE "GIRL IN A BUBBLE" MYTH: The most common case against all girls' education is that such schools create a falsely safe space, removing a girl from the influence of the opposite sex. This unrealistic environment, they contend, may render her ill prepared for a co-ed life.
However, we strongly disagree!
After all, her world will continue to include boys and men in the social sphere. Her school will only enable her to find her voice and collaborate, rather than compete with those of her own gender to bring about the best in each other, thus preparing her for a purposeful life.
Rather than 'PROTECTION', which is falsely assumed, an all girls' school gives its students the much needed 'FREEDOM'!
A girl can be free to experiment and explore during her formative years, without wasting a second thought or a backward glance on how her male counterparts might perceive her.
Faham Ahmed, from MATER DEI CONVENT, NEW DELHI supports the above claim by saying, "An all-girls' school provided me with a lot of comfortable space and a platform to nurture my skills. It was with time that I realised that it is not a collective 'whole' that should define a certain environment, but the individuals dwelling therein, contrary to what is popularly perceived.
I met girls of all sorts, most of whom did not, in the slightest manner, exhibit extreme ends of femininity, as is typically assumed of an all-girls' school. The point I made above comes to me only after having experienced a shift from an all-girls' school to a co-educational college and realising that the shift did not seem drastic or uncomfortable in the slightest of ways. For me, my schooling has always been encouraging and motivating."
Aditi Singh, an alumnus of QUEEN MARY'S SCHOOL, DELHI tells, "Studying in an all girls school has been amazing! Being raised in a competitive environment has helped me to grow up as a competitive and high spirited person. And it is in these all girls' schools that the real essence of women empowerment and upliftment is felt during the young years of school life."
EXPANDED EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES:Girls' schools create a culture of rigorous disciplined training in both academics as well as extra curriculars. In such schools, each student automatically comes out of her comfort zone and is encouraged to be more daring.
With fewer gender distractions, girls learn to be more productive, accept challenging leadership roles and spend more time on their personal interests.
An alumnus of the prestigious CONVENT OF JESUS AND MARY, NEW DELHI, Karina Sharma goes on to explain that, " I have felt girls in same sex schools are somewhat more outlandish and outspoken about current feminist issues. Girls' schools do facilitate a more feasible atmosphere in terms of focus. However, I don't contest individual nature but let's says a person is less likely to fall into temptation in a same sex school. Having studied in an all girls school for 13 years of my life, college life in the beginning did seem 'odd' by some measures. But that of course did not last for long and I established my comfort level with ease. During school, I found myself taking active part in all societal hurdles and immediate challenges that bred in the neighbourhood and all class circles discussed them with utmost priority. Environment for me in CJM was HIGHLY Competitive in all fields. Much much more as I've seen in college. "
Therefore, girls are more likely to take up both non-traditional courses such as STEM fields as well as traditionally female oriented career options with equal ease based upon their skills and true interests.
An alumnus of MAHARANI GAYATRI DEVI GIRLS' SCHOOL, JAIPUR, Simran Jain makes an important point, "Being a part of MGD has taught me as well as my peers that there is no such field in which girls' can't prosper, be it academics, cultural or sports. In an all girls' school, a girl can take up subjects like home science along with science and commerce or sports with equal ease, without thinking twice about her image which is the biggest problem in co-ed schools where perception takes the lead. Girls are both participants as well as leaders. This makes girls more confident in their abilities. Moreover, parents as well tend to be more comfortable and support her new experiments."
At last, we can say that single sex education is not merely an attempt to separate girls and boys but is about ensuring that girls take the centre stage.
Here, the discovery and development of a girl's individual potential is paramount.
This combination of reduced sex stereotyping in classrooms amidst abundant learning opportunities makes all-girls' education a powerful and transformative experience.
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