Marist School Marikina has been known to be an all-boys educational institution for over 50 years, and the first instance of female students enrolling in its day high program was when a co-educational system was implemented for senior high school in 2016. But last March 8, 2021, the school announced the shift to co-ed from Kinder to Grade 12 effective next school year; mixed reactions were received by this news. As students of Marist, as much as this is a welcome change, we have reason to believe that the behaviour of male students now is not suitable and should be improved.
Among the Marist-affiliated schools in the Philippines, the Marikina campus is the last to implement this change. In a circular released by the school president last March 24, a co-ed system “empowers male and female students to grow both as individuals and as members of the community” through “collaboration, community, and confidence.” According to the circular, this would also help students in the demands of higher education and life.
But with this abrupt transition, the lack of experience of male students to be with girls in an educational setting may put everyone in uncomfortable situations. During interactions that usually happen in junior high school, it is unsurprising that partners end up in romantic relationships. However, there are times when, after a confession of feelings, boys expect a response from the girls, who could not give him one because she has never found herself in such a situation. To this day, especially in senior high, relationships are too conflicting that they cause issues and unnecessary drama between the people involved. The boys have to learn that a co-ed community is for the people in its environment to adapt and learn, not participate in a dating convention or simulator.
Even in the society, women are often deprived of their own decisions, and for every interest they have, such as playing video games or being active in sports, they’re judged or tested for it. Though one’s intentions aren’t harmful most of the time, there are instances when any woman is judged for her interest and feelings. This was even mentioned as present in school during the March episode of Tambayang Marista with the female students. The presence of a macho culture both inside and outside of their homes upholds men as stronger and smarter. But women empowerment is also achieved when one’s interests and capabilities are validated.
Further, men and women have varying needs. Adapting to a new environment can be difficult because one has to learn how the environment works and how they should respond amidst each other’s presence. On those whose environment is changing, they are yet to adapt and change, too. Like any form of human decency, respect is the one thing you can do and treat others around you. Some jokes and asides that are usually brought up may be taken differently in the presence of women. Although one’s intentions aren’t always malicious, words and actions affect each person differently. Shaming or harming a woman in any type of way is obviously disrespectful. Even if that was your light humor; women don’t know that.
Though the change from all boys setting to co-ed system may be abrupt, it is hoped that the community members—from students to personnel—from both grade school and high school departments be well-educated in being respectful to the opposite sex. The behavior of students should be disciplined or monitored not only about safety from students of the opposite sex, but also about prejudice against each other due to the mindset that “boys are better than girls.”
Considering that classes next school year will continue to be online, it is practical for Marist to take advantage of this gradual transition to the eventual physical classes to ensure a holistic development among students.