After several government schools in Kerala moved to gender neutral uniforms, a government school in the Palakkad district of Kerala is moving towards a gender neutral approach towards addressing teachers. It has asked students to refer to teachers simply as “teacher” instead of “sir” or “madam”.
The Senior Basic School in Olassery, Palakkad has become the first school in the state to make such a move. The school, the DNA reports, has 300 students, 9 female and 8 male teachers. According to the school’s headmaster, Venugopalan H, the idea was first floated by a male staff member. Teachers should be addressed by their designation, not by their gender, the report says.
As reported in November last year, 106 year old The Government Lower Primary School at Valayanchirangara in Ernakulam district had initiated gender inclusive, unisex uniforms from 2019 owing to the timely intervention of parents and school PTA. The school prescribes that both boys and girls should wear shirts and trousers as it would ensure free movement of students and better participation of girls in sports and physical activity. Until 2019, the school, like most other schools across the globe, had shirts and trousers as uniforms for boys and shirts and skirts as uniforms for girls. However, many girls were not comfortable participating in sports events and other physical activities, due to the fear that their skirts may get blown by the wind.
On a similar note, the Mathoor panchayat, about 14 km from the Palakkad school also decided to stop addressing its office bearers as sir and madam and instead use their designation as a means of address.
These developments are in the direction of the government’s move to help promote gender equality in all fields, including education. The government has also said that it will audit textbooks in order to ensure gender equality and justice in the content.