The Swedish government is set to ban single-sex classrooms, with the education minister calling it a problem that “must be addressed”.
Currently schools can choose to educate children separately, as long as they provide an equal standard of teaching.
New rules, however, will mean mixed classes in all subjects.
‘The problems themselves must be addressed’
“We have seen a number of reports from state school inspectors where girls and boys have been kept in separate classes for certain subjects for years at a time. We do not think this should be permitted.” education Minister Gustav Fridolin said.
All schools would receive guidance on how to implement the new rules into their curriculum.
“If you feel that having girls and boys in the same class causes problems,” he explained to The Local, “then the problems themselves must be addressed, not avoided by simply splitting the class up.”
“We have seen a number of reports from state school inspectors where girls and boys have been kept in separate classes for certain subjects for years at a time. We do not think this should be permitted,” he added.
An ongoing debate
While there are currently no statistics for gender segregation in Swedish schools, it is an issue that has often sparked debate.
Most recently Fridolin made calls for mixed gender classrooms last August, after a Muslim school was found to be separating boys and girls for gym classes.
“[This] can not be a way of working with gender equality,” he added at the time.
However some teachers said mixed classes would mean girls missed out on opportunities.
Nina Da Mata, a sports teacher at the Al-Azhar school, said the girls felt “more secure” in a group of their own.
“Some of our girls want to be able to take off their veils and wear shorts and T-shirts in their classes,” she added.
“This would be difficult if there were boys of the same age or a male teacher.”
At the time the school was ruled to be in the clear, as the gym classes were of the same quality.
Similarly, Swedish swimming pools also came under fire for offering ‘women-only hours’.