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Rest for boys, class for girls

The 178-year-old La Martiniere Calcutta has scored a sexist self-goal announcing a World Cup holiday for its boys’ school on Monday but sparing no such post-match day off for the girls.

La Martiniere for Boys will be closed because its principal thinks students deserve a day’s rest after catching the live telecast of the Argentina-Germany final at Rio’s Maracana from 12.30am on Monday.

It will be business as usual at La Martiniere for Girls. Classes begin at 8am, no matter how groggy-eyed and sleepy the girls may get after cheering Messi or Muller.

The school has refused to make any concession despite its football team ruling the roost in city tournaments.

Students, parents and even a section of teachers said it was unfair and smacked of “gender stereotyping”. “We watch matches as much as the boys. What have they done to be so privileged?” said a Class IX girl, a club footballer who plays for the school too.

A former captain of the girls’ team said there would be at least 30 of them practising thrice a week in the morning. Then came the spot kick: “On a couple of occasions, we have defeated the boys next door.”

The boys are scoring on this one. “They may have got a holiday if they could tell an offside from a same-side,” said one.

If the match ends in normal time, it should over at 2.20am. But it could continue until 3.20am if penalty shootouts are needed to separate the teams and find the winner.

“I don’t see either the students or the teachers coming fresh to school,” said Sunirmal Chakravarthi, principal of La Martiniere for Boys. “The World Cup comes once in four years and the students should be allowed to enjoy it.”

The official explanation from the girls’ school has the potential to invite more indignation. “We have a dress rehearsal (for a cultural programme) scheduled on Monday and preparation for a week full of programmes. So we could not declare a holiday on Monday,” said Lorraine Mirza, principal of La Martiniere for Girls.

The activities are part of a partnership programme with St Olave’s Grammar School, UK, whose representatives will arrive on Tuesday and stay till Saturday.

Many think a rehearsal can wait for a World Cup final.

“This kind of blatant stereotyping is unworthy of a school of La Martiniere’s stature,” a mother wrote on Facebook. “Girls need not play or follow sports? Incidentally the Indian Women’s Football team has a much higher rank of 49 [50 in the latest Fifa rankings] vis-a-vis the Men’s team at 154.” writes another.

Other schools are taking the tweak route. St. James’ will start at 9.30am instead of 7.45am while Delhi Public School New Town and Megacity have rescheduled class tests. Apeejay schools have “told teachers not to teach something taxing on Monday”.