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20% of public secondary schools remain segregated


Al Akhbar newspaper published a report on segregated secondary schools in the public sector and which total 40 segregated secondary schools compared to 213 co-ed secondary schools (thus representing 20% of the total according to a census of all public secondary schools in the country).  The report indicated that these 40 segregated schools are mostly located in the most populated areas of Beirut, the Southern suburbs and Tripoli but are rarely found in rural areas and villages.  The report noted that the highest concentration of segregated schools is located in Beirut (seven segregated compared to 11 mixed schools) according to the sources of the Ministry of Education. The latter indicated that the reason for that skewed distribution may be the fact that the secondary schools in Beirut are amongst the first established and according to the old system which segregated students by sex.  This system still prevails in these schools until now.
The report also explored the views of girls and boys students who attend sex-segregated schools.  Some of them noted that they have coped with this system whilst others consider it to be outdated and should be changed.  Parents have a different opinion, particularly fathers, as they consider that whilst most school may be capable of teaching, very few are able to “educate” the youth and, as such, they prefer to send their daughters and sons to sex-segregated schools and avoid mixing the sexes.
Al Akhbar also indicated that religious schools, both Muslim and Christian, are keener on maintaining sex segregation in keeping with their religious beliefs.  Some of these schools strongly believe that sex segregation in the classroom actually enhances school performance by helping students to focus on scholastic matters only.  They substantiate their views with the high results obtained by segregated schools in the official exams.  Hence, more schools are now opting to segregate students in order to avoid problems caused by some young men.
For his part, the president of The Lebanese Association for Educational Studies (LAES), Dr. Adnan Al-Amine insists on the benefits of co-ed schooling as, according to him, sex segregated schools pushes students towards developing wrong ideas about the other sex which in turn leads to unhealthy relations in the future.  Al Amine also noted that girls may benefit on the short tem from not being with boys as this allows them to develop their leadership skills especially since co-ed schools often exhibit male leadership and subordination of girls.  Nevertheless, Al Amine still largely remains in favor of co-ed schooling citing a number of researches that have provided evidence to that effect.
Source: Al-Akhbar 13 September 2013

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