So while part of the country was armed with a teacher training manual aimed at making the country’s schools more gender sensitive and inclusive, the left-wing government in the southern state has announced that it will support the notion of gender neutrality. School uniforms – a concept that is probably unimaginable for students and educators alike.
Bhalyanchirangara Government Lower Primary School, near Perumbavur in Ernakulam district, with 754 students, has taken the first step towards gender neutrality and introduced a new uniform for its students – a 3/4s shorts and shirts, regardless of gender.
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The new dress code was planned for 2018 and was introduced in the lower primary section of the school, and this academic year, when schools reopened after an epidemic lockdown, it was extended to all students.
Vivek V, the current president of the PTA, who was also part of the PTA’s executive committee in 2018, who made the decision, told PTI that they want all children to enjoy the same level of freedom.
“We have the support of the students and their parents. We wanted all the students to have the same uniform so that they can enjoy freedom of movement. It was first introduced in the pre-primary class of about 200 students. It was a big hit for all our other classes. Gave confidence to implement, “said Vivek.
General Education Minister V Shivanakutty said it was a commendable move by LP schools and the government would promote such gender inclusion activities.
“The concepts of gender justice, equality and awareness will be emphasized during the curriculum reform. But these lessons need not be confined to the textbooks. Valiant Chirangara LP School’s commendable move.
He said the society needs to start a discussion on whether it is necessary to have separate schools for boys and girls.
“It is time to start a discussion in the society on whether there is a need for separate schools for boys and girls. The state government fully supports the idea of unisex uniforms for students which is a step towards ensuring gender equality.” Minister.
He said necessary steps would be taken to include gender equality and justice in the school curriculum.
KP Suma, headmistress of the school, said students are excited about the new uniforms and female students will now feel more comfortable and confident to take part in extracurricular activities.
“The PTA discussed the advice given by the academic committee and later enlisted the help of Vidya Mukundan, a designer, to select the design of the costumes,” he said.
Vidya Mukundan, a Kochi-based designer and an aspiring filmmaker, told PTI that initially the parents of the students had some concerns about how the girls could use the toilets.
“My friend Binoy Peter, who was the school’s academic chairman and PTA president in 2018, told me about the decision to implement a gender-neutral uniform for children. We later discussed the matter with teachers and students and designed it. This uniform,” Mukundan said. .
After considering different designs decided to increase the length of shorts and make 3/4th for all students.
“The girls told us they were very comfortable with the new uniform. It was initially applied to pre-primary students. Later, after considering positive feedback from parents and teachers, the school introduced it to other classes,” she said.
There are also pockets in the girls’ uniforms, he added.
One parent, who did not want to be named, told PTI that he no longer had to worry about his daughter running or jumping or dancing or engaging in physical activity.
“Our parents would tell us to be careful when engaging in various activities, including sports and dancing, because skirts are not ideally suited for such activities. Now I am glad that my daughter does not have to face the same situation as me and can participate in it. Whatever he wants without worrying about coming, “he said.
The number of students enrolled in the school has been steadily increasing in the last five years. While the number of schools stood at 609 in the 2015-16 academic year, it increased to 681 students in 2018 and now stands at 754 students.
A senior education official said the government’s policy was to promote gender neutrality and would fully support any school that plans to introduce such gender-neutral uniforms. However, no law in this regard has been discussed yet.
The Kerala government had earlier this month made it clear that there was no law requiring teachers to wear sari with the Minister of Higher Education and Bindu, adding that such practice in demanding sari was not conducive to Kerala’s progressive attitude.
The point is that one’s choice of clothing is a completely personal matter and no one has the right to criticize or interfere in another’s personal choice.
The Department of Higher Education issued a circular in the second week of November after receiving complaints from many teachers that several institutions in the state were continuing such policing practices.
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