Opinion: Separating boys and girls

POSTED: 08/16/11 12:13 PM

Educators in the Netherlands are considering an idea that is worth the attention of our own educators: separate classes for boys and girls. The chairman of the Management Council, Wim Kuiper, launched the plan in the daily newspaper Trouw yesterday.
Kuiper’s proposal has nothing to do with sex or segregation. The plan is purely based on educational needs. The plan focuses on language courses. Research has revealed that there is a significant difference in the brain-development between boys and girls during puberty, Kuiper says.
Bart Funnekotter, who covers education for the quality paper NRC Handelsblad, wrote yesterday that the concerns about the difference in study-results between boys and girls have been around for already some time. On top, education currently has a strong focus on language, working together and studying independently. “Those are things boys are less good at,” Funnekotter wrote. “They have to be addressed in a different way, probably more competitive. The idea of separate classes could therefore be a real solution for a problem everybody knows about.”
Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt is of two minds about the idea. A spokesman for her department said that van Bijsterveldt is prepared to allow for an experiment, but that she will not allow exclusion based on sex. In the meantime, the Minister has ordered research into the reasons why boys perform worse than girls. The Minister also wants recommendations for possible solutions.
If this phenomenon plays in the Netherlands, it will also play in St. Maarten. We guess there is no money for expensive research, but as far as that is concerned, Education Minister Arrindell can simply wait for the Dutch results before taking action. In the meantime, an experiment with separate language classes in St. Maarten sounds like a plan. Who will take the initiative?

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