Saturday, January 26, 2008

Coeducation in Afghanistan

"...women are seen as the repository of family honor, and the education of girls--whether in terms of the design of school buildings or in the way in which classes are conducted--needs to reflect that reality"

This quote looks like one that could be taken from the pages of American education history as we read about in the words of Tyack and Hansot. But, it is very current indeed, coming from an article in this week's TIME Magazine. The article is about the slow move toward educating girls in Afghanistan. Cultural values prohibit the mixing of girls and unrelated men, and families see no finanical benefit to educating girls in a society where their employment options are restricted.

It is interesting to hear the central conflict of our own nation as we moved toward co-education echoed in the words of a country and culture that is so different from our own. I tend to think of the inequalities that have existed in terms of gender in education as a tradition of devaluing females. But, this article makes clear that keeping girls from school has been, in part to protect a valued role girls play in society. It is clearly a moral issue described in this article. Seen from that light it is hard to criticize the decision to exclude girls, and my esteem for those young ladies and teachers who are breaking the mold has gone up exponentially.

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