School segregation: Views of all parties must be heard before deciding
News Strait Times, 16/1/2008, Wednesday
By : DR ROSNANI HASHIM, Gombak, Selangor
I AM not writing because I agree or disagree with classroom sex segregation.
However, I think the matter was not adroitly handled.There was no deliberation between the parties concerned, namely the principal, the parent-teacher association and the student body.No reasons were sought from the principal. The objections of some parents were the reason for overruling the school's decision. It was stated that the principal had been too enthusiastic and acted against regulations set by the Education Ministry.
I am not sure if there exists a ruling that public schools have to be co-educational. The case of no deliberation became more evident when the school's policy was reversed in the absence of the principal, who apparently had not returned from a pilgrimage.The school could have made a mistake by being overzealous but this was not the way to correct it. I believe the school made that decision collectively.I also believe that it had reasons for doing that, either educational, psychological, cultural or religious. Research has shown, though not conclusively, that single-sex schools yield greater educational achievements than co-ed schools.In fact, the number of single-sex schools is on the rise in the United Kingdom and the United States. However, the improved performance is more likely to occur in girls' classes and the reverse in boys' classes, because in the latter, the class becomes more prone to disruptive and aggressive behaviour.
I pose a question: If we want school principals to be innovative, as evidenced by the establishment of cluster schools, should we at the same time act to curb the principal's autonomy to improve the school, assuming that it was what the head of SMK Seremban Jaya was trying to do?