Government Plans To Phase Out Single-Sex Schools
Education authorities in Bulawayo are considering turning single-sex government schools into mixed ones to address gang-related violence in schools. This comes after a recent incident where a Form Four Founders High School pupil was fatally stabbed by a learner from Hamilton High School.
The situation has been further exacerbated by the disintegration of family and societal values. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education held a stakeholders’ meeting at Townsend High School to discuss the issue, which was attended by school heads, senior teachers, parents, police, civil society organisations, and pupils. The meeting covered schools from Bulawayo Central District, including Milton, Hamilton, Founders, Eveline, Gifford, Townsend, and Montrose high schools. Issues such as drug abuse and pupils carrying dangerous weapons to school were raised, and concerns were also raised about modern parenting and the erosion of Ubuntu values.
During the deliberations, it was revealed that pupils from gender-isolated schools were fighting over relationships. Boys from Milton High School were ordered not to set foot in Bulawayo’s City Centre, which is perceived to be a territory for Gifford High School, while Gifford High School boys were not to be seen at City Hall, which is claimed by those from Milton High School. The history behind the construction of these schools was also cited as a contributing factor to the age-old violence pitting pupils from these institutions against each other.
Bulawayo Provincial Education director, Mr Bernard Mazambane, said that following the stakeholders’ meeting, it was proposed that single-sex schools be transformed into mixed ones. However, consultations will be undertaken before the proposal is adopted. Mr Mazambane explained that there was a belief among pupils that boys from schools such as Milton High School were entitled to girls from Eveline High School, due to the history associated with the schools as they were named after a couple: Sir William Milton and his wife Eveline Milton. He said that pupils from the two schools inherited the history associated with the learning institutions.
Mr Mazambane emphasized that the ministry is not going to impose its decision on the community, and stakeholder engagements will be conducted before the issue is finalized. He also stated that the implementation process will be gradual, starting with lower classes if boys are introduced in a girls’ school, and starting with bigger girls who are able to say no when approached if girls are introduced in a boys’ school. Mr Mazambane also stressed the need for parents to actively monitor their children’s behaviour, so as not to burden schools.