I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman! — why an all-girls education is superior.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Single sex education has been a never-ending controversy ever since the modern schooling system existed. It’s often infamously portrayed as strict, suppressing and somber; producing pompous graduates totally out of touch with the world’s reality. But I am here to declare otherwise, as Rebel Wilson, one of our most famous alumna may also attest! (Disclaimer alert: I can only speak from my own experience as a cisgender immigrant female who attended Tara Anglican School for Girls in the noughties, as I’m very well aware it could be a totally different story for many others.)

Though there are many other positive contributing factors to my experience at an all girl’s school, I will only highlight those that pertain to the absence of the testosterone fueled students. Entering an all girl’s school is like as if we hit pause at the rest of the world while we give a chance for a girl to breathe and her true potential to grow.

Female leadership is the norm

For so many of us, being born a female, even in developed countries is like entering a video game with only half the life bar. Add to that the plethora of “challenges” we then face as we grow up: the unrealistic expectations women bear from having to be pleasant to look at, but not too sexy,… slim, but not too skinny,… smart, but not intimidatingly intelligent,…and the list goes on. Not to mention the violence and cruelty that happens to women even now behind closed doors. Once upon a not-so-distant time in China during the one child policy regime, having a baby girl was so shameful, some were deemed not worthy of even a chance at life.

How then, living an existence constantly berated by society, media and heck even your own family can a woman ever dream to rise to the top and take the lead?

For those 7 years I was at Tara Anglican School for Girls, it was like living in a parallel universe. More than 90% of all significant leadership roles were filled by elegant, wise and articulate ladies (A nod to you Mrs. L. Caulfield), while male teachers were a striking minority (With Names like Mr. S.Meli), and they always happily showed respect to all of their females bosses. It’s almost impossible to reverse brainwash a girl’s mind, but seeing it in reality day after day definitely makes a difference.

Pursuing passions sans pressure

Without the distraction of boys and the pressure to constantly impress them, enough time and space is given for girls to pursue their passions, whether it be sports, music, languages, drama or religion. We didn’t have to choose to spend our time vying for the prom king nor fighting with a cheating jock, we had the luxury to spend all that time on ourselves. Every girl was given the avenue and encouraged to grow and develop whatever her ingenious interest may be.

Did you know? Rebel not only has a law degree, but she also won the largest defamation damages payout ever ordered by an Australian court case against Bauer Media Group, one of the world’s largest media company.

Rebel Wilson, Attorney at Law (The Late Late Show with James Corden)

Merit and personality based confidence

While society relentlessly hammers the idea that worth and value are so entangled with our appearance, which is one possible cause that eating disorders and body dysmorphia are so rampant among girls. At school, I had the chance to associate worth and value with other matters — such as the ability to spell properly (haha just joking, not really). Merit was very highly applauded (not just in academics, but also in an array of fields).

As most of the students were cisgendered or were not yet out of the closet, good looks alone was not enough for one to be admired, so we all had enough time and space to hone our personality. The pretty girl, was just a pretty girl. Nearly all of the most popular people were not necessarily good looking, instead they were girls who have incredible personality, warmth and/or charm.

Though to be honest, an early introduction to Open Heart Meditation also played a significant part in empowering me to live my life as honestly as I can with full integrity to myself, others and the Creator.

A chance to grow a sense of humour

Without having to conform to how society has set us to act, feel or react, unbeknownst to me, girls can be totally feral (one word I learnt from our country chicks that means disgusting)! One of the midnight initiation ceremonies at my year six dorm was to smell a jar of the other girls’ collective farts for a whole ten seconds. We played pranks on each other, like turning on the hot water on every tap in the communal showers so the lone person showering will be left with only cold water in the winter. Bonus point if she’s just started lathering her hair with shampoo! And if she slung her towel over the door, chances are it’d be gone too. After all, girls just wanna have fun, right?

As we grew up, so did our sense of humour. Without boys around to obsess over, we had to be creative and became even more observant with the quirks of people around us and everyday life. We were adept at deriving laughs from sharp and keen quips at each other or usually at our teachers. Sometimes, we even crossed to imaginary hilarious situations, which develops our creativity, survival and problem solving skills that came in very handy later in life.

Certainly, my school was far from perfect, but it did make me the person that I am today. So then, you ask me, “did you end up learning about the birds and the bees at all?” Looking back, turns out that’s one chapter I could afford to take as a crash course by making every mistake in the book during my first year in college. But let’s save that story for another time.

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Emmanuella Iskandar

Emmanuella Iskandar

Dare to challenge the world, ask questions with integrity and express genuine opinions.

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