Women’s rights campaigners in the Gaza Strip have said plans by the ruling Hamas faction to separate boys and girls in schools amounts to an imposition of Islamist views on the people there.
Supporters of the new law, which will take effect in the next school year, said the measure simply serves the people and their culture.
A legal adviser to the Education Ministry, Waleed Mezher, said: “We have had many discussions with teachers and education experts, and they all recommended this system which separates boys and girls from the age of nine in school.”
Private schools, and those run by Christian organisations and the UN will feel the difference the most. Their classes are mostly mixed until secondary education. Pupils in state schools are mostly segregated already.
A women’s rights campaigner in Gaza, Zeinab al-Ghoneimi, complained: “It’s a continuation of the culture of separation, under the guise of a ban on mixing. And according to the minister of education and those who brought in this rule it’s beneficial for society.”
She claimed that to say the old law did not respect the community’s traditions is an insult to the people.
The new law will also exclude male staff from teaching girls.