It is not often that the government or media in Ontario give a crap what is going on in Saudi Arabia. Recently, we have seen an exception. Both Alqonquin College in Ottawa and Niagara College of Welland run all-male campuses here. This has been cause for scandal. Ontario Premier Wynne has declared this "unacceptable," despite the fact that the provincial Liberal government itself approved the new campuses years ago, when they were set up.
In this, Wynne and the media just reveal themselves as chauvinists and bigots. It is not as if Saudi Arabis does not also have it's all-female schools. It is not as if education is not available to women. As in Canada, more Saudi women than Saudi men go to university--60 percent of university students are women. This is the fact that ought to concern us, if we truly believed in sexual equality.
All that this is about is the Saudi religious scruple that the sexes ought to be kept separated, a scruple we shared up to a few years ago. I attended sex-segregated schools in Quebec growing up, as did my siblings. Yet the Saudis must suddenly snap to attention and conform to the latest fad in Canada?
Worse, from a pedagogical perspective, the Saudis are right and we are wrong. Few things are really known in the "social sciences" generally, but one of the strongest empirical claims in the field--a claim that is no more than simple common sense-- is that both males and females learn faster when separate.
We must ask, what does Wynne think schools are for?