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Gender Interaction and Life Skills
People

Gender Interaction and Life Skills

It is very important that men and women gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of each other’s mental and emotional qualities before they decide to marry, especially in the present times when interpersonal communication plays a key role, says Nahid Khodakarami, secretary of the Health, Hygiene and Environment Workgroup at the Office of the Vice-President for Family and Women’s Affairs.
Segregation of the sexes at the higher university level is “an alarming trend” as it deprives the youth of the chance to learn communicative skills in a conducive and mature environment which the higher academic institutions provide. Development of such skills in young people is very important in the success of their social and marital lives at a later stage, she said.
Research conducted by academia at medical universities shows that where male and female students in universities are involved in intellectual group forums, discussions and activities, it has helped improve their interpersonal communication and development of life skills.
“Around 39% of the interactions lead to marriages of which 90% are sustainable,” she said, quoted by the Persian daily ‘Sharq.’
The results of the research were announced against the backdrop of increasing efforts to segregate boys and girls in universities.  Gender segregation is already enforced in university libraries and canteens as well as schools nationwide. There are also universities exclusively for girls.  
On the other hand, the president of Tabriz Islamic Art University, where gender segregation is enforced, is of the opinion that “universities are not marriage forums but a place to impart knowledge.”
“It is the students’ academic success and scores that will determine if the segregation is useful,” said Mohammad Ali Keynejad.
He believes that co-ed universities “create disturbances in the relations between boy and girl students.”
Single-gender education is the practice of conducting education where male and female students attend separate classes or in separate buildings or schools. In many cultures globally it is advocated on the basis of tradition as well as religion, and is practiced in many parts of the world.

 Sandwiched
Khodakarami stressed that with the rapidly expanding virtual communication and easy access to information from across continents, a new generation has emerged that is sandwiched between tradition and modernity. This new generation, she says, cannot be restricted to act within an established framework. Even in the absence of comprehensive research, statistics show that “the current approach to gender segregation has not been able to help establish close-knit families.”
On the contrary, segregation has often resulted in social ills as boys and girls who do not have the chance to interact even on a platonic level may resort to clandestine meetings and get misled in both the real and virtual world, the official notes.
“It can either lead to out-of-norm relations or a failed relationship in marriage due to inadequate knowledge and erroneous information about healthy relations between the sexes.”
“Young students should be encouraged to interact in the universities in a healthy, mature way rather than in virtual environments, a common pastime today and also difficult to monitor, and where relations are surreal.”
The present approach is “disrespectful to young people who have proved to be capable of complying with ethical values and social norms in an Islamic society.” Divorce rates will worsen if the authorities do not view the situation in the proper perspective, Khodakarami cautioned.    
In Tabriz Islamic Art University, the sex ratio is 50:50 because students have been evaluated separately, Keynejad pointed out.
The ratio would be 64:46 (female to male) if the entrance test was general. “This proportion will not be able to sustain the job market demand as most of the girls who fared better than boys in the entrance examination, eventually become housewives.”
Keynejad maintains that separate classes “will ensure equality in quality and level of learning among students.”

 Controversial  
The topic of single-sex education is still a global debate. Advocates argue that it aids student outcomes such as test scores, graduation rates, and solutions to behavioral difficulties. Opponents, however, argue that evidence of such effects is inflated or non-existent and that such segregation can lead to increased prejudice and cost students social skills.
Further, advocates of single-sex education believe that there are persistent gender differences in how boys and girls learn and behave in educational settings, and that such differences merit educating them separately. Proponents reference these developmental differences to argue that by separating students according to sex, the educator is able to meet the needs according to the developmental trajectory of the different genders.
However, opponents believe that in single-sex education, the children are not prepared for the real world, where they would need to communicate with members of the opposite sex. They argue that coeducational institutes break down sexist attitudes through interaction with the opposite sex. Other opponents of single-sex education also argue that coeducation creates a feeling of safety and a sense of mutual respect.

 

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