By Ahmad Faizuddin
I recently read a local newspaper article reporting that the number of women in the workforce has surpassed men. In Malaysia, 54% of the total employees comprises women. Perhaps it is due to the schemes that help women work from homes, like the “1Malaysia Support For Housewives” and “1Azam Kerja.” This is indeed a significant improvement. However, the trend is also true in other sectors of life, such as education.
In the case of Malaysia, Prof. Rosnani Hashim in Preliminary Thought on The Nature of Education for Muslim Females stated that there is a growing trend of women not only being economically independent but also occupying the higher rung in the job market. According to her, women are now partners in national development.
In the field of education, women have also outnumbered men at universities. We can see that female students dominate the seats in the classroom halls compared to their male counterparts. The number continues to rise year by year. About 65 per cent students enrolled in tertiary colleges are women. We can see as well that more women can be found working as administrators and academicians.
What happened with the male students? Statistically boys have higher rate of school dropouts or expulsion than girls. In addition, boys tend to attend special academic programmes and some prefer doing business or follow their personal interests. Is this the right track or is there a crisis in the boys’ education?
When we look back to the schools, why girls performed better than boys academically is perhaps due to the nature of the boys. They are easy going. Besides, most parents raised their kids differently. Boys do not like reading. They play outside most of the time. Who wash the dishes after eating, if not the girls. Girls are given responsibility from the very early age like cooking, washing dishes, etc. While boys are given ‘luxurious’ time to enjoy being the ‘king’ in the house. In this case, girls are more like servants. Yet, at the end of it, who are more serious in their studies? Of course the girls.
Naturally, in the cave period men were the protectors of family. They have more physical strength than women. But the world has changed with the invention of machines. So there’s now less use of muscle and power. While the problem is that men still have the muscles. Do we need to raise our children differently? I believe that there is nothing wrong with the boys washing dishes.
Some people might argue it is necessary to raise children differently. Perhaps it is because boys and girls have different interests and responsibilities. Even though boys do not help the family with much chores at home, they can still contribute outside like shopping and buying something to help the family. They can be given responsibilities from early age to handle. If this is the case, why can’t boys be responsible and excel in education as well?
It is clear that if parents were to give their children certain responsibilities during their early age, life for them would be much easier. Naturally, the girls are more serious in their tasks. No doubt, they are the “weaker sex” and have no muscles. But they think ahead and are pretty hard working.
Additionally, the way teachers assess students at school is also different. Girls have more advantages by being more studious, but boys are better in abstract thinking. In the examination-oriented system, absolutely the boys will fall behind. Fortunately, today’s school-based assessment (PBS) is supporting every student for their betterment.
One final question is that there is a problem with more female students in every sector of life. Perhaps we should do further research and examine the real issues. Yet, there is no signs in society of the danger of having more female students in universities. The only problem recognisable now is that there are more single women who are work conscious and do not want to get married. In the long run and over the years, this phenomenon would certainly have an impact on the country’s population.***
The writer is a Ph.D. student at Kulliyyah of Education, Educational Management and Leadership, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)