Recently, in the news, there has been a lot of discussion regarding the Ontario colleges that are now operating in Saudi Arabia. In particular, Algonquin College and Niagara college have opened up colleges which are operating under Sharia law, which bans the teaching of men and women in the same classes.
Many people have been very angry and confused about how this could happen, especially when these colleges are funded by Canada, of all places. Canada has a reputation of being extremely inclusive of all genders, so the fact that this is happening seems unacceptable.
I believe that there has been to much focus on the cultural preference of gender segregation. The real issue is whether or not men and women have equal access to education. As Amnesty International Canada’s secretary-general, Alex Neve said, “What is key is that women are not being denied access to education and are not being denied access to education that is equal to what is available to men; that becomes the key consideration.”
I think that the Ontario Government should pass legislation requiring that a satellite college can only open if either of these requirements are met: (1) the college will offer programs to both women and men, or (2) the college will offer programs for men exclusively, but the same programs are accessible to women within the same geographical area.
I think that Canada really needs to make more of an effort to ensure that wherever Canadian colleges are operating, gender discrimination is not an issue.
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