The Kerala State Child Rights Commission has directed the State Government to make all schools in the State co-educational beginning from the academic year 2023-24. It said that all schools that are currently exclusively for boys or girls should be converted into co-educational institutions by then.
The order came in the context of a petition filed by Dr Isaac Paul of Anchal in Kollam district who argued that gender justice was denied in exclusive schools, Onmanorama reported. The present number of boys only schools in the State is 164 while there are 280 girls only schools.
The report adds that agreeing with the petitioner’s argument, the Commission in its order stated as follows:
“It is curious that exclusive schools for boys and girls are still functioning in Kerala…There is no need to teach boys and girls in separate schools in the existing social context. Moreover, the existence of such schools can only be seen as a turning away from advanced education and psychological theories. There is no justification for such schools to exist. The government should not hesitate to put an end to such an unscientific practice,” the order issued by Commission member Remy Antony is reported to read.
It has further been reported that the Government authorities have informed the commission that it was the policy of the government to end exclusive schools. However, the same would have to be done only after taking into confidence the parent teacher association and after an assessment of the material condition of schools.
Reports also state that General Education Minister V Sivankutty had informed the State assembly on July 4 that in furtherance of the Government’s policy to convert exclusive schools into co-educational institutions, 11 exclusive schools were converted into co-ed in the present term of the government. He said more schools would be converted if more PTAs, school authorities and local bodies demanded the same.
The Commission also mentioned that global studies demonstrated that co-educational schools would instil mutual respect and ensure gender equality. In view of the same, the Commission has also directed the Principal Secretary (General Education) and Directors of Public Education and the State Council for Education, Research and Training (SCERT) to come up with an action plan in this regard.