Deccan Vahini: Schools should be inclusive, say experts on Kerala co-ed debate – News9 LIVE

30 July 2022 1:47 PM GMT
As per the Child Rights Panel’s order, all schools should be co-eds by next academic year (PTI: File)
Months after triggering a nationwide discussion with the gender-neutral uniform, school education in Kerala is back in news with a recent order by Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR). The child rights panel has recommended the state government to convert all same sex schools in the state to mixed schools by next academic year.
This, however, is no simple task. There are 280 girls-only and 164 boys-only schools in the government and aided sector alone in the state.
Reni Antony, member of KSCPCR, said that co-education was the declared policy of the Kerala government. “Before arriving at this decision, we had sought reports from Principal Secretary of Education department, SCERT director and Director of General Education. All informed that co-education is the policy of government,” he said. Antony said that changes, whether it is abolition of sati or widow remarriage, have happened because of strong interventions, ignoring all public protests.
Varsha Venugopal, former chairperson of St Teresa’s College, said that girls-only schools are still relevant because of the lack of inclusion in the co-ed system. “Often service of boys are sought for certain tasks like taking a ladder or fixing a sound system. For women empowerment and life-skill development, girls-only educational institutions provide a better platform,” she said, adding that the first girls-only school was established by social reformer Jyothiba Phule for women empowerment.
Dr Mohan Roy, psychiatrist, said that a study published by Delhi Government a few years ago disproves arguments that same sex schools are good for academic progress of students. “I feel the State has the responsibility to individually check the reason when certain parents demand same sex schools for their kids. Will these parents continue the same stand in choosing higher education or workspace of their children?,” Roy asked.
Amal Chandra, NSUI General Secretary at Pondicherry Central University said that State should take steps to address issues such as moral policing, gender justice, sex education. “For that an inclusive mixed school environment is necessary,” he said. Chandra said teachers should be provided training on gender sensitisation.
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