By Lynne Roberts
Millions of dinars wasted by unnecessary separation of men and women, say Kuwaiti educators.
Millions of dinars have been wasted by the unnecessary separation of men and women at universities, a Kuwaiti forum heard on Tuesday.
Outspoken opponents to the country’s educational segregation laws said that co-education does not contradict Islamic Sharia, as men and women were allowed to mix freely in markets and workplaces, reported Kuwait’s Arab Times.
“Other Muslim countries allow the integration of male and female students in schools and universities”, Lolwa Al Qattami, owner of American International School (AIS), told the meeting at the Women Cultural and Social Society.
“Does this mean these countries base their laws on Islamic principles different from what we follow in Kuwait?” she asked.
Kuwait's parliament, controlled by Islamists and conservatives, passed a law in 1996 stipulating that male and female students at Kuwait University and other higher education institutions be completely separated.
It also passed another law in 2000 extending the ban on co-education to private universities.
Some female students have complained they are unable to access certain courses because they must wait for a full class of women.
Noura Al-Ghanem, representing private school owners, said schools across the Gulf were already facing difficulties recruiting qualified teachers. “If we implement the segregation law, then we will need twice the number of existing teachers” she said.
According to Kuwait University Professor Dr Ali Al-Zhogbi the law had been a factor in the “deterioration of Kuwait’s education and has also affected our children’s confidence”.
Liberal MP Ali Al-Rashed received death threats earlier this month after he filed a bill calling for the laws to be amended in order to allow co-education, saying students had been negatively affected.