grade school



Basic Education goes full co-ed

A natural progression of Ateneo’s mission

KD Suarez

When the University unveiled its Magis Aspirations -- the 10 major projects under the Lux in Domino 2030 strategic plan -- one stood out for many, particularly alumni: the implementation of a full co-educational set up in the Grade School and Junior High School.

This Magis Aspiration is part of the plan to "increase access to and impact" of Ateneo education, specifically by finally letting girls access to all of its basic education schools. 

The transition to full co-education in Ateneo Basic Education has been a long time coming. It was in 1950 when the Graduate School first let women students in, a move called "revolutionary" at the time. However it was in 1973 when the College of Arts and Sciences admitted its first female enrollees that co-education went full speed in Ateneo.


It would take four decades until co-education arrived at the basic education schools, when the Senior High School was opened for both boys and girls in 2013 as part of Ateneo’s response to the K-12 Law.

coed college

Then, in 2021, in the Lux in Domino 2030 plan, full co-education in AGS and AJHS was put on the table. The two schools are the only remaining all-boys units of Ateneo de Manila, as well as the only ones remaining among the Ateneo universities. Finally, on 4 February 2023 the Board of Trustees approved the full co-ed plan

Under this plan, beginning School Year 2024-2025 Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 7 will start admitting girls to its student population. The shift is planned so that until SY 2029-2030, every school year a new grade level becomes home to both boys and girls.  

"By 2027-2028, it will be a full co-ed high school," said Fr Jonjee Sumpaico SJ, Vice President for Basic Education. "Then by 2029-2030, it will be full [co-ed in] basic education."

The initial plan is to have roughly 1/3 girls to 2/3 boys in the first year, until the school decides to go for an even split by 2030, said Sumpaico. 

admission illustration

There are currently three major areas that are being prepared for the shift: academics, formation, and administration. "These three things are important because, looking into this, you will have a certain sense of the learning domains... even in terms of the institution," Sumpaico said.

Teams have been tasked to map out and implement changes in areas from curriculum and student activities, to the retrofitting and building of new facilities, even admissions and communications.

Preparations are in full swing so that Kinder, Grade 1, and Grade 7 will be ready to accept girls in their classes come August 2024.

Faithful to Mission

Ateneo is ready for full co-education, Sumpaico said, and the disruption caused by the pandemic opened an avenue for the University to fully explore this path.

"[Opportunities for growth] run all over the history of Jesuit education in the Philippines, even during Spanish times -- a lot of these come during times of disruption," he explained. "Coming from the pandemic, we were able to have virtual education; at the same time, with the question of having co education in basic education always hanging around, the Basic Education team then took this on as a mission."

As for the decision for the gradual shift, instead of a one-time opening in all levels, it is a deliberate choice.

"If we work considering the timing, then it’s good to guide and be with the learner from the early stages until they grow so that we may be able to look into that level of developmental progression that each learner of the Ateneo would engage in," he said. "When I say 'learners' it doesn’t mean that it would just be the kids but also the community, even the adults."

Ateneo's previous experiences and learnings with co-education shifts, in particular the entry of girls in senior high school, are valuable in this major undertaking.

Other Ateneo universities' experiences also come to the fore, Sumpaico said, because of their similar set-up: a higher education institution with basic education. "I see the Ateneo as a fleet. You have multiple ships working; if one moves, the rest are affected... with more ships, a bigger fleet, you have more resources that can be shared."

"We will have to learn from different Ateneos, but we will have to learn from ourselves as well from our experience."

Growth and Hope

This major change is, at its core, about growth and bravery -- about how Ateneo got back on its bearings after a global disruption, and responded to challenges head-on. This is part of the never-ending change and transformation of Ateneo itself, as an institution and a community.

“Perhaps it is good to consider that we are not just an Ignatian school -- meaning that we are based on the Spiritual Exercises -- but we are also a Jesuit school based on mission,” he explained. “If we are going to look at that, in terms of inclusivity, diversity, equity, we find ourselves lacking in that area, given that our different Jesuit schools in the Philippines, particularly the university basic education schools, have turned co-ed a long time ago.”

It may not look like the institution that many alumni know, but it is these changes that make Ateneo, Ateneo.









"To be at peace with how Ateneo is growing, to be at peace with how Ateneo continues to stick to its mission in this time and in this place and in this manner as it does its best and commits to excellence."


"I think I would ask [alumni] to do this meditation: If St Ignatius of Loyola were alive right now and he sees that the state of Jesuit education is the same as how he left it when he died centuries ago, I'd think he'll be sad. But if he sees that the situation of Jesuit education all over the world has evolved, I’m sure he will be amazed -- he will see there is growth."

"To be at peace with how Ateneo is growing, to be at peace with how Ateneo continues to stick to its mission in this time and in this place and in this manner as it does its best and commits to excellence," he said.

He added: “We stick to the mission, and that's a mission that continues to grow.”

"We have gone through a lot and we have responded to many challenges across the decades and centuries; it isn't anything new. This is something we can build upon; it is just natural and calls for bravery," he said. "It may be difficult, but this mission, is the call of the times" PERIOD



Published by the Office of University Development and Alumni Affairs (OUDAA),
Ateneo de Manila University

Fr Norberto "Kit" Bautista SJ

Rica Bolipata-Santos PhD

Cris Yparraguirre

Renzo Guevara, Margarita Santos, KD Suarez

Andrea Bautista
Art Director/Graphic Designer

Ateneo alumni can update their information by emailing OUDAA at