Co-education ordinarily means the studying of boys and girls together in the same institution. For its success, however the existence of cordial relations between boys and girls and of an atmosphere of mutual confidence and faith is essential. Under this system boys and girls freely mix together and share the excitement as well as the boredom of the intellectual adventure.
Co-education is not a modern experiment in India. Thousands of years ago, in the Vedic Bharat the sons and daughters of Mother India acquired an ideal system of education in an ideal way, sitting together in the sacred temples of lore and art-the 'Tapovanas'. Sisters and brothers, as they were known, being pupils of the same Guru, developed a sweet relation far from any thing of sex-passion. These boys and girls had made our ancient India an envy of the world. But with the advent of the Moghuls in India, the freedom of the women was curbed and they were confined to the four-walls of the house. The concept of co-education was almost totally suppressed. But then came the Britishers with their enlightened views and progressive culture. They opened a new world of freedom for boys and girls to study together. The system of coeducation proved to be so successful that Indian leaders adopted it after the independence of India.
Many are the advantages of Co-education. It creates a wide-ness of outlook and a breadth of vision amongst the students studying together. It takes them out of the world of narrow thinking and makes them feel the whole rhythm of life. Education must take into account the whole of the unfolding personality, the complete development of the individual, his intellect no less than his emotions, awakening and feeding every kind of interest; Therefore, co-education is necessary to provide a meeting "ground between boys and girls and to save them from a one-sided development Which would create in them a distorted vision of life.
Co-education helps boys to shed some of their roughness and coarseness of behavior and language in dealing with their girl fellow-students. Girls also get over their feelings of shyness and false modesty and breathe a wholesome air of freedom in which the evils of repression to which they are liable cannot flourish.
Co-education enables the boys and girls to come into contact with one another on various occasions—they receive their lessons together, they play on the field jointly, they participate in the extra-curricular activities like debates and cultural programmers together, it is a psychological truth that the segregation of sexes creates several complexes. The barrier between boys and girls only excites in them keener ties ire to know each-other.
Co-education provides a platform to boys and girls to study each other's habits, inclinations, hobbies and ways of talking. This leads to a better understanding between the two sexes and prepares a fine background for the later married happiness of young men and women.
Besides, co-education is a great disciplinary factor in the academic life. Left to themselves, young boys or girls are likely to be mischievous and naughty. But when they are in the presence of the other sex, they control their rudeness and indecency. The presence of the girls is the best curative for the misbehavior of the boys.
Co-education also creates a healthy rivalry between the boys and girls. Both try their best to surpass and outstrip one another in matters of academic distinction. Both boys and girls become more serious devotees in the temple of learning. Both are urged and inspired to a more fruitful intellectual exertion than is the case in separate institutions for boys and girls.
But co-education is not all roses. Where there are roses, there are thorns top. There are dangers as well inherent in the system of co-education. When girls are around, boys cannot concentrate upon their studies. They prefer to feed their eyes on the object of beauty rather than listen to the dull lecture of the professor. A pretty face is too much of a temptation to a boy to pay his attention to the lecture. And why the boys alone ? The young lecturers are likely to be disturbed in the train of their thought by a pair of smiling blue eyes. Rightly did Stephen Leacock say. "Men can't study when women are around. If women are let into a college, they are likely to get round some of the professors and marry them and then good bye to research and higher thoughts."
Moreover, the free mixing of boys and girls may lead to greater intimacy and the inexperience of life coupled with the fire burning in their hearts may lead them on the path of pre-marital sex-relations. This will create an atmosphere of moral degeneration. It will create real problems for both boys and girls. Colleges tend to turn into marriage marts.
Besides this, boys and girls need different types of education. There is no point in attending the same lectures when the needs of boys and girls are really different. Boys have to fight on the front of life and have to secure a livelihood. Girls have to sweeten the home life by their skill in the domestic management. As such they should be kept in separate institutions and should be given what they require. There is also the danger in the co-educational system of boys becoming girlish and girls becoming boyish.
The dreams of a golden India can only be realized when boys and girls make joint efforts to contribute their full quota of energy and knowledge to build a united India. The healthy and invigorating relationship between them will be of immense value to the making of a new India. Co-education in itself is not bad at all.