The new dress code was expected in 2018 and was first introduced in the lower primary section of the school.
The Valayanchirangara Government Lower Primary School near Perumbavoor in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, which has 754 students, has introduced a new gender-neutral uniform for its students – shorts and a 3/4 shirt. The new dress code was expected in 2018 and was introduced in the lower primary section of the school and this school year, when schools reopened after the pandemic-induced lockdown, it was extended to all students.
Vivek V, the current PTA chairman, who was also part of the 2018 PTA executive committee that made the decision, told PTI that they want all children to have the same level of freedom.
âWe got the support of the students and their parents. We wanted all students to have the same uniform so that they could enjoy the freedom of movement. This was first introduced in pre-primary classes of around 200 students. great success which gave us confidence to implement it for all other classes, âsaid Vivek.
General Education Minister V Sivankutty said this was an admirable move by the LP School and the government will encourage such gender-inclusive activities.
âThe ideas of gender justice, equality and awareness will be put forward during the reform of the programs. But these lessons should not be limited to textbooks. Admirable movement of the Valayanchirangara LP School. Students of all genders will now wear the same uniform here – short pants and shirts, “Sivankutty tweeted congratulating the school.
He said there is a need to initiate a discussion in society about whether we should continue with separate schools for boys and girls.
“It is time to start a discussion in society about whether it is necessary to continue with separate schools for boys and girls. The state government fully supports the idea of ââa unisex uniform for girls. students, which is a step towards gender equality (sic), “the minister said.
He said the necessary steps will be taken to include gender equality and justice in the school curriculum.
KP Suma, the school principal, said students were excited about the new uniform and students would now feel more comfortable and confident participating in extracurricular activities.
âThe PTA had discussed the suggestion put forward by the academic committee and then enlisted the help of a designer, Vidya Mukundan to select the design of the dress,â she said.
Vidya Mukundan, a Kochi-based designer and aspiring filmmaker, told PTI that initially the parents of the students had some concerns, including how the girls will be able to use the toilet.
âMy friend Binoy Peter, who was the academic director and PTA president of the school in 2018, told me about the decision to implement a neutral uniform for children. We then discussed the matter with the teachers and students and designed this uniform, âMukundan said.
After considering various models, they decided to increase the length of the shorts and made a 3/4 for all the students.
âThe girls told us they feel very comfortable with the new uniform. This was first implemented among pre-primary students. Later, after considering the positive response from parents and teachers, the school introduced it to the other classes, âshe said. noted. The girls’ uniforms also include pockets, she added.
One parent, who did not wish to be named, told PTI that now her daughter no longer has to worry about engaging in physical activities like running, jumping or dancing or whatever.
âOur parents told us to be careful doing many activities including sports and dancing because skirts are not ideal for such activities. Now I’m glad my daughter doesn’t have to face the same situation as me and be able to participate in whatever she wants without having to worry about her outfit, âshe said.
The number of students enrolled in school has grown steadily over the past five years. While the school’s strength stood at 609 in the 2015-16 school year, it grew to 681 students in 2018 and currently has 754 students.
A senior education department official said government policy is to encourage gender neutrality and will fully support any school that is considering introducing such non-sexist uniforms. However, a law on this subject has not yet been discussed.
The Kerala government had clarified earlier this month that there was no law requiring teachers to wear the saree with Higher Education Minister R Bindu claiming that such a practice requiring the wearing of the saree was not was not conducive to Kerala’s progressive attitude. Bindu had said that the choice of dress is an entirely personal matter and that no one has the right to criticize or interfere in the clothing choices of others.
The higher education department had, in the second week of November, issued a circular in this regard after many teachers complained that several state institutions continue to practice such policing.