New Delhi, 26 November 2021 – To support gender equality in the state, a government lower primary school in Valayanchirangara (Ernakulam district, Kerala) has introduced a unisex school uniform. The school has a strength of 754 students and has introduced a new uniform for both boy and girl students of the school, which includes 3/4th length shorts and a shirt.
The new dress code was originally planned in the year 2018. However, plans to introduce it were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other state policy matters. Now in 2021, the dress code was introduced in the lower primary section, as soon as the school was reopened after the COVID-induced lockdown.
The current president of the parents-teachers association (PTA) in Kerala, Vivek V, who was part of the executive committee that took the decision for dress reform, told PTI, “We got the backing of students and their parents. We wanted all the students to have the same uniform so that they could enjoy the freedom of movement. This was first introduced in the pre-primary classes of around 200 students. It was a big hit, which gave us confidence to implement it for all other classes.”
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How is the Government of Kerala Reacting to the Decision?
The Kerala government has announced that it would back the idea of gender-neutral uniforms across all government schools in the state.
Regarding the change, General Education Minister V Sivankutty noted, “Ideas of gender justice, equality, and awareness will be emphasised during curriculum reform … Admirable move by Valayanchirangara LP School. Students of all genders will now wear the same uniform here – short pants and shirts.”
He also stated that “It is time to start a discussion in the society whether there is any need to continue with the separate schools for boys and girls. The state government fully supports the idea of unisex uniforms for the students, which is a step towards ensuring gender equality.”
How are Parents and Students Reacting to the Decision?
Parents and students are supporting the new reform. Most notably, girl students and their parents are in favor of the change, as it will allow female students to move around freely without being conscious of their attire.
K P Suma, the head mistress of the school, noted, “Girls told us that they feel very comfortable with the new uniform. This was initially implemented among the pre-primary students. Later, after considering the positive response from parents and teachers, the school introduced it to the other classes.”
A parent, who did not wish to be named, told PTI, “Our parents used to tell us to be careful while engaging in several activities including sports and dance because skirts are not ideally suitable for such activities. Now, I am glad that my daughter will not have to face the same situation and can participate in whatever (school activity) she wants to, without having to worry about her outfit coming in the way.”