Co-education means no separate schools for boys and girls. Under this system of education, there is no segregation on sex-basis. Boys and girls are imparted the same training and education in the same school, under the same staff of teachers. Thus, it brings boys and girls together at very early stage.
In India, co-education has been quite new. In majority of cases there are still separate schools for boys and girls. It is only in cities and big towns that there are a good number of co-educational schools, colleges and training institutions. In western countries, it has been there for the last so many years. In India too, it would be soon popular because of many advantages it offers. Switzerland was the first European country to adopt it. In the U.S.A. co-education is found almost on all levels and in all institutions.
Co-education is quite economical. As it dispenses with separate schools and staff for boys and girls, a lot of savings can be made. A developing country like India can’t afford separate schools and staff if the targets of universal and compulsory education, quality improvement etc., are to be achieved.
Co-education creates better understandings among boys and girls. Ultimately they are bound to live together as husbands and wives. Therefore, why not give them an opportunity mix up and know each other at the school stage itself. They would develop desirable and healthy behaviour towards one another resulting in better adjustments in later life as partners. Girls will not feel shy nor will the boys tease the girls as a result of co-education. This would lead to decrease in sexual offences and crimes among the young people. It is bound to generate far better understanding and harmony between the two sexes.
Co-education will also reduce indiscipline among students. Boys behave very decently in the presence of girls. It also creates a sense of healthy competition among them. Consequently, they study hard and devote more time to their studies and other related activities. The result is desired companionship, refinement and good manners. Statistics show that boys become more orderly, well-behaved and disciplined when educated and trained in co-educational institutions, because then they will not have any curiosity about the opposite sex. It will also help the girls to understand the males and their expectations from them.
But there is a strong criticism against the system, particularly from conservatives and orthodox people. They argue that it would corrupt the minds of young boys and girls. They say that they would be less serious about their studies and waste away their time and energy in diversions. They argue that the boys and girls should be taught in separate schools because co-education is against our cultural traditions and social norms.
But the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Moreover, the criticism does not hold much water. The fear that co-education would spoil our youth seems unfounded. The world is changing fast, and we must keep pace with this rapid transition for the better. It is imperative that we go for co-education at all levels if we want to achieve the aims of equality to women, universal elementary education and improvement in quality of teaching. The old walls and barriers of medieval morality and dead traditions should be removed. Co-education is an important and essential means to achieve it. Let us hope it would be soon the order of the day.