The Valayanchirangara Government Lower Primary School, near Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district, in Kerala has introduced a gender-neutral uniform for 754 students. All students will be wearing 3/4th shorts and shirts, irrespective of gender.
The new dress code was planned in 2018 and was introduced in the lower primary section of the school and this academic year, when the schools were reopened after the pandemic induced lockdown, it has been extended to all students.
According to Vivek V, president of the PTA (parent-teachers association), the State wants all the children to enjoy the same level of freedom.
This was first introduced in the pre-primary classes of around 200 students. It was a big hit which gave us the confidence to implement it for all other classes.
According to V Sivankutty, general education minister, the initiative is an admirable move by the LP school and the government will promote such gender-inclusive activities. Ideas of gender justice, equality, and awareness will be emphasized during curriculum reform. These lessons need not be restricted to textbooks. The admirable move by Valayanchirangara LP School will allow students of all genders to wear short pants and shirts.
It is time to start a discussion in society about whether there is any need to continue with 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, the minister added.
K P Suma, the headmistress of LP school, said the students are excited about the new uniform and the girl students will now feel more comfortable and confident in taking part in extracurricular activities.
The number of students enrolling in the school has been steadily increasing in the last five years. The school's strength stood at 609 in the 2015-16 academic year, it increased to 681 students in 2018, and currently, it has 754 students.
According to the education department, the government policy is to encourage gender neutrality and will fully support any school which plans to introduce such a gender-neutral uniform.
The Kerala government earlier this month clarified that there was no law asking teachers to wear sari, with higher education minister R Bindu saying such a practice of demanding to wear sari was not conducive to Kerala's progressive attitude.
Vidya Mukundan, a Kochi-based designer, designed the uniform. After considering various designs, the decision was to increase the length of the shorts and make a 3/4th for all the students.