KUWAIT CITY, May 11: In this week’s online poll, readers shared their thoughts on the highly contentious issue of coeducation in Kuwait with the majority of respondents holding the view that politicians should be concentrating their efforts on the development and not setting it back by centuries.
Earlier this month, MPs Hamoud Al-Hamdan, Ouda Al-Ruweie, Mohammad Al-Huwailah, Ali Abdulla Al-Khamis and Hamdan Al-Azmi presented a bill on amending the Higher Education Law applied at Kuwait University, Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) and private educational institutions in order to prohibit male and female students from mingling in buildings, laboratories and other facilities in their schools.
The proposal states that Article One of Law No. 24/1996 will be replaced with the following text: “The government shall take steps to renovate the existing buildings in colleges, institutes and centres of Kuwait University, PAAET and private educational institutions to prevent male and female students from mingling in buildings, laboratories and libraries as well as the educational, administrative and services facilities, among others.”
34 percent of voters felt the MPs should be concentrating on matters of national development instead of promoting antiquated ideas while 22 percent welcomed the move as it complied with Sharia Law. “Co-education promotes free interaction between girls and boys, which is not permissible in Islam, so I agree with the move to ban inter-mingling on the campuses. I think we need to protect our children from succumbing to distractions and temptations, and instead help them focus on their studies”, a reader commented.
On the other hand, another voter opined, “I think segregation comes against the spirit of education. Our girls should not be secluded but brought up in an environment of competition with boys from the very beginning. Islam has given so many privileges to women, it is unfair to use it to promote social inequalities.”
While 8 percent firmly believed that the move would contradict the liberal values of Kuwaiti society another 8 percent pondered if a similar division in social spaces such as malls and restaurants would follow.
9 percent believed that segregation was unacceptable in Kuwait’s multicultural society and another 9 percent believed that the step would lead to narrow-mindedness and a Talebanisation of society. “Kuwait is not as backward a community as these MPs would have you believe. This extreme segregation is an affront to the country’s liberal values. Apart from that, from a cost standpoint, it is more costly and inefficient to teach students separately”, a respondent shared. “It confounds me that politicians are proposing stringent segregation in educational institutes that are preparing students to join the workforce where men and women work shoulder to shoulder”, another reader commented.
By Cinatra Fernandes Arab Times Staff