Many private schools in the UAE have mixed classrooms.
All government schools in the UAE are now teaching boys and girls side-by-side in Grade 1 (pupils aged five to six) from this academic year which began in September. The move was following a decision by the education authorities in the country.
This major policy change from the Ministry of Education (MoE) will be upgraded to other grades in all public schools on a yearly basis. The new strategy will include Grade 2 next academic year and then continue until mixed classes are in operation up to Grade 4.
Many private schools in the UAE have mixed classrooms but public schools have been separating boys and girls.
Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, told Khaleej Times that the ministry introduced the co-education system to improve the classroom atmosphere and promote socialisation of pupils.
“Girls and boys mingle in kindergarten and we believe if they continue studying together until Grade 4, it can help them better understand each other, do class work and play together,” she said. “I think segregation of pupils at this age doesn’t help them any better because they are still small kids and need to socialise.”
Al Muhairi added that all research across the world indicates that segregation in the class doesn’t favour boys or girls and that it is the reason the ministry is now trying co-education in public schools.
“We have started trying the system of mixed classes in Grade 1 and we will be looking at the outcomes to see if it’s better for the children and whether we can continue with the system,” she said. “If you look at countries like the United Kingdom and others, lower classes up to Grade 6 are mixed. They usually segregate pupils, for instance; boys only or girls only schools, starting from secondary school level.”
The minister said though mixed classes were something new to the Emirati society, the ministry is encouraging it because they believe it would have a good impact in the future, especially in regards to children’s social behaviour and performance.
“Having mixed gender classes will be good for the pupils’ future, especially when they go out into the world. We encourage it for our schools because it has been successful elsewhere,” said Al Muhairi.
Read the full article on Khaleej Times.