The Doon School Headmaster Peter McLaughlin takes due pride in calling the institution a national treasure. He says its elitist tag is because the school is a nursery of very well-educated boys. A list of some of the Doon School’s most illustrious old boys would attest to that. And the school takes its all-boys image very seriously indeed.
But a question being raised frequently now is: Has the time come to yield to the winds of change?
President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil and Uttarakhand Governor Margret Alva led a debate at the school today by saying it must open its doors to girls as well. Joining the party at the Doon School’s 75th founder’s day celebrations today, they strongly advocated the school authorities must allow girls to study with the boys in the new environment of equal opportunities.
“Girls should not be deprived of studying at this school,” said Patil in her address. When girls are achieving excellence in every sphere, they must get a chance to study at the prestigious school, she said emphatically.
Before the President’s speech, it was the Uttarakhand Governor who initiated the debate. She forcefully supported the idea that girls must be allowed to study in the school.
The schoolboys present too largely supported the co-educational view. Not the old boys, though. A majority of those present said the school must not shed its basic character as an all-boys school “Co-education is okay. But I don’t think we should allow girls to study at this school,” said Karan Thapar, a veteran journalist and an old boy. Like Thapar, most of the old boys said they did not like the idea of introducing co-education at Doon School.
And as the debate went on, someone remarked: “Let the Indian Military Academy, which is also debating a similar issue, take the lead. The Doon School will surely follow suit.”