Student unions protest over cancellation of coed classes

By Faten Omar

KUWAIT: Al-Mostaqilla students union organized a protest at Kuwait University on Monday in response to the administration’s abrupt decision to cancel coeducation classes shortly before the start of the new academic semester. The demonstration, attended by Taaluf, Al-Wasat Al-Demoqrati, and Al-Etelafeya students unions, showcases the resilience and unity of Kuwait University’s student body when facing unexpected challenges to their educational experience.

Dr Ibrahim Al-Hamoud, Head of the Public Law Department at the College of Law and a member of the administrative board of the Faculty Association, emphasized the importance of the university considering the quality of education, student comfort and timely graduation. Increasing the duration of study due to class shortages, especially with the yearly rise in student numbers, is unreasonable, he said.

Hamoud noted that the decision to cancel coeducation is illogical, as there have been no incidents or complaints related to coeducation since 1966. He affirmed that the growing number of students inevitably necessitates opening more classes. “While law no. 24 of 1969 clearly prohibits mixing of genders, the constitutional court has clarified its constitutionality. Kuwait University has respected the judiciary and the court’s ruling by separating male and female students within the classroom, which is considered a proper application of the law,” he said.

Hamoud argued that the decision of the minister of education and members of parliament contradicts the constitution and violates the constitutional court’s decision, which states that non-mingling can be achieved by separating males and females in the same classroom. He added that if there is a desire to prevent coeducation, a new law establishing separate universities for each gender must be enacted. However, such a law would contradict principles of justice, equality and Islamic law. He affirmed that inappropriate mingling involves lack of respect for boundaries and inappropriate clothing and behaviors, which is not the case.

Dr Sheikha Al-Jassem, a faculty member at Kuwait University, said the committee for the promotion of values lacks the authority to prohibit gender mixing and impersonation at the university. She questioned the decision-making process, as the decision only affected the law faculty while other faculties continue mixed classes. “I think there are some personal, internal matters, and students and employees of the deanship of admissions and registration are the ones who are paying the price,” she said.

KUWAIT: Kuwait University students rally to protest a decision to impose gender segregation, outside the institution’s campus on September 18, 2023. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Mohammad Mishal Al-Qattan, a medical student and the general coordinator of Al-Wasat Al-Demoqrati, placed responsibility on the university dean and director for violating the law guaranteeing the university’s independence from external interference. He demanded a return to the previous situation of joint education for all. Sarah Al-Otaibi, an English language student at the College of Arts, found the decision illogical, pointing out that coeducation is a part of life, and even in Makkah, the most sacred place on earth, there is gender mixing.

She expressed concerns about delays in graduation and scholarship eligibility due to the decision. Otaibi told Kuwait Times she intends to continue with her master’s studies, but there are conditions for scholarship that she should not be over 30, otherwise she will not be eligible for it. Dr Fatima Dashti, a faculty member at the College of Law, criticized the committee’s actions, emphasizing that in her 30 years of teaching experience, she never found an urgent need to separate male and female students in shared classes. She questioned the principle of separation of powers and whether actions at Kuwait University are seen as an assault on legitimacy and customs and traditions by the National Assembly.

The post Student unions protest over cancellation of coed classes appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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