Co education, as the word denotes, means education of boys and girls together in schools and colleges. When both the sexes receive education jointly, there is no need for separate institutions. This is obviously an advantage from the economic point of view since separate institutions and separate staff for those institutions will entail greater expenditure.
Co-education has many more important advantages. It enables the girls and boys to come into contact with and learn to understand one another. They receive their lessons jointly, they play on the fields together, they participate in the extracurricular activities together, they go out on educational tours together, in short, they get real opportunities to know one another.
When free contact between the sexes is allowed and encouraged, there can be no sex-suppression on either side. It is a psychological fact that the segregation of the sexes leads to many complexes. The age of puberty is crucial for both boys and girls, and if they get no chance to meet one another they are tormented by unhealthy, morbid thoughts.
Segregation, therefore, does great harm to youth-both male and female. Among girls, it often leads to hysteria and among lads it sometimes leads to vicious habits. Co-education prevents these dangers. The presence of girls in educational institutions has a refining effect on boys.
Generally, boys, if left to themselves will show a tendency to indulge in vulgar talk and indecent jokes Vulgarity, indeed, thrives among boys. If, however, a group of students standing and chatting together includes a few girls, the boys will take care not to use any vulgar expressions.
Boys will thus steadily develop a habit of talking decently and behaving in a gentlemanly manner. The mutual understanding engendered co-education also leads to recognition by men of the desirability of giving to women a high status in social life. Hitherto men have been only too ready to oppose any rights or privileges being conceded to women.
But this opposition is mainly based upon an ignorance of the latent potentialities of women. Co-education dispels this by affording men a first-hand knowledge of the capacities and abilities of women.
Another salutary effect of co-education is that it produces a healthy spirit of competition between boys and girls. Each sex makes efforts to excel the other. Both are therefore urged to a more fruitful intellectual exertion than is the case in separate institutions for boys and girls.
But co-education is not an unmixed blessing, and its drawbacks should be clearly recognised and guarded against the system has been bitterly criticized by many educationists. In the first place, men find it difficult to concentrate upon studies in the presence of women.
The temptation to look at a pretty face is always irresistible for a man, whatever his age. In youth, this temptation is all the stronger. It is too much therefore, to expect boys to attend wholeheartedly to their lessons when a number of attractive girls are sitting by their side in the classroom.
Again, there is a real danger that the free inter-mixing of the sexes at the age of puberty may lead to sexual misconduct Boys will aim at entangling girls, and girls may become the willing victims of unscrupulous boys. This sort of thing, besides being undesirable and improper in itself, has an adverse effect upon the discipline of an institution.
The needs of women are different from those of men. The same curriculum does not suit both the sexes. Boys and girls should not, therefore, be given exactly the same sort of education. If the list of subjects suitable for study by the two sexes
But it would be a waste of effort to admit boys and girls to the same college and then to teach them separately on account of the differences based on the belief that there are wide differences between the mental constitution of the two sexes.
Girls tend to be more interested in their immediate surroundings, in what is pretty and ornamental, and boys in what is more remote from them, in what is useful, in what is general and what is abstract.
Co-education in India has made considerable progress. It has already been introduced in most colleges. The number of girls in co-educational institutions nowadays is as large as that of boys.