Adamu Muhammad Hamid, PhD
Monday this week, the Bauchi State Government implemented its announcement weeks earlier on implementing single-sex schools. According to the Commissioner, Ministry of Education Bauchi State, Dr Aliyu Usman Tilde, they are making our educational system consider the dangers of allowing young adults to mix freely in schools. He observed that most secondary school students are adolescents, and the typical characteristics of the age group is risk-taking and adventuring. He gabbed of reports that reached him of indecent behaviour among students on account of co-education, citing the well-known case of students who performed a wedding between two classmates a boy and a girl, in one of the secondary schools in Bauchi.
In the name of celebration, each Day of Vacation across major cities of the state, engaging in ‘poisonous’ interaction indiscipline is common happenstance among students. It was reported that, in the name of celebrating holidays or final examinations, boy students write different messages on different parts of female students, and mostly on the uniform.
For short, the decision of the Bauchi State Government was timeous and commendable. Our educational system has to take into consideration our local culture in order to be meaningful. Our current Nigerian educational system is the legacy of colonial establishment which was transplanted here hook line and sinker. It’s possible coed worked well in Europe but for our culture and religion, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish, prohibits free mixing of young adults because of potential dangers contained.
The state has had the largest number of out-of-school children in recent times, approximately 1.2 million according to the state’s Ministry of Education records, 2022. Some of the reasons accounting for the sorry situation may not be unconnected with the distrust that the local people have in the Western orientation of the educational system and its lack of touch with the local culture and religion. Local people wouldn’t take their girl child to school because of the mix, which is culturally not sanctioned.
Paradoxically, even in some recognized world events like FIFA World Cup, despite the fact that cultures of most parts of the world tolerate free gender interaction, the football competition does not consider mixing men and women in the same team to play a match, the same thing for Under 21 and Under 17. This in my opinion is remarkable and shows that the white man or Europe in particular is not consistent. Why mix boys and girls in schools and separate genders in football?
However, the US recognizes single-sex schools, otherwise known as gender separate schools. A single-gender classroom is one where boys or girls are isolated from the other gender for educational purposes. Whereas both public schools and private schools use gender-specific tactics, the practice is somewhat controversial. Critics of same-sex schools frown at the potential for gender discrimination and the incapability to learn how to function in a coed environment. Nevertheless, they also see several benefits that are observable for girls in a single-gender classroom.
In the US, single-sex schools were historically the domain of private school systems. In 2006 however, federal legislation permitted public school districts to fashion single-gender schools and classrooms for their students. Since as at then there were only close to hundred single-sex schools in the whole country, it was too early for long-term studies to compare public single-sex and coeducational schools. The initial report of studies, however, shows that single-sex schools may have some advantages for students. The mainstream of public classrooms in the United States includes a mix of boys and girls yet, some experts are certain that it’s time to explore single-sex education.
Single-sex schools as a concept is simple enough on the surface- boys study with boys and girls study with girls, and the two genders don’t mix or meet, at least not during school hours. The idea gained momentum in many places in the millennium. Later on, about 400 public schools were single-sex institutions in 2016 according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Schools.
According to the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education (NASSPE), roughly 400 public schools have executed a same-sex educational program, though the effectiveness of same-sex education has remained controversial for many years, there are numerous advantages for boys and girls who are students of same-sex classrooms. According to the National Education Association of America, promoters of same-sex education believe that both boys and girls can profit from single-gender classrooms. Minus boys in the classroom, girls are more probable to share their outlooks on topics as well as answer questions from the teacher. Studies have also revealed that boys achieve better in same-sex classrooms and are more prospective to complete activities in the classroom. Largely, students in same-sex classrooms are more likely to focus on their studies while evolving new educational interests.
In addition, same-sex classrooms let teachers adapt their lessons to the specific interests and requirements of students. For instance, teachers can captivate the interest of girls by using books highlighting lead female characters, by teaching a lesson using students to act as significant women in history, or by discussing the impact of religion on young girls. Furthermore, teachers have the prospect to develop inspiring lesson plans that will both interest and charm the more boyish attitude of male students. Eventually, both genders can benefit from same-sex classrooms due to traditional teaching that suits their maturity levels.
Same-sex education can also help to improve educational involvement for both genders. Students in same-sex classes can obtain instruction that will aid them to prosper in all subjects. Girls in same-sex classes may not feel obliged to contest with boys in their classes, letting the girls work more spontaneously in male-dominated subjects such as math and the physical sciences. Contrariwise, boys may feel free to hunt their interests in female-dominated subjects like music and poetry. According to the National Education Association, schoolchildren who have a chance to learn without stress from the opposite sex can develop increasingly successful in school while following a variety of interests and activities.
Same-sex education has the capacity to improve the academic accomplishment of both genders. Empirical evidence from the West suggests that same-sex education was associated with higher standard attainment scores, and improved student interest in taking more advanced subjects, meaning a higher prospect of graduating from high school. Students in same-sex classrooms also developed better organizational skills and were more involved in classroom activities. Again, the National Association of Single-Sex Public Education, stated that same-sex classrooms not only improve academics but also cultivate well-rounded personalities.
The NASSPE also opposes detractors who opine that single-gender schools preclude girls from learning to develop constructive relationships with boys. As a substitute, NASSPE notes that girls learn to have more independence and control over their relationship choices devoid of experiencing the pressure of boy-girl relationships common in mixed schools. The development of relationship enablement may benefit girls in relationships with the opposite sex later in life. Overall, fewer unwanted pregnancies are a related hallmark of girls-only schools, according to NASSPE.
The discussion above is an attempt to highlight some of the empirical happenstances of the imperative for same-sex schools in other societies than Nigeria’s, which may trigger a rethink in our system that has refused to develop, and is consistently failing and failing us.
It is true that soon after the commencement of the new arrangement in Bauchi on Monday, a handful of secondary school students went on a protest in the streets of Bauchi against it. This was despite the wide consultation with the clergy that the Bauchi State Ministry of Education did before going ahead with the implementation of the policy. It was also reported that some clerics also dedicated whole sermons to the issue to create the requisite awareness of the new policy. Detractors may think that the students were protesting against the policy, right? Wrong! Eyewitnesses reported that those protesting were actually students who were actually transferred from their former schools but could not afford the distance between their homes to their new schools. Others who participated were instigated by their male teachers who wouldn’t like girls to leave for another school, for whatever reasons. The mistake from the side of the Bauchi State Ministry of Education was that it embarked on the arrangement without primary research on students’ areas of residence, and transferred them to the same-sex schools nearest to their homes.
Again, this policy of enforcing gender interaction discipline in our schools is commendable and need to be emulated by other states in both northern Nigeria and most part of southern Nigeria because of striking cultural similarity and cohesion, for a discipline and promising tomorrow.
Adamu Muhammad Hamid can be contacted via [email protected]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect WikkiTimes’ editorial stance.