“No official decision made; no order given for any change”
The idea to switch from ‘dupattas’ to overcoats for women students was only for the sake of convenience, as dupattas often tended to get caught in cycle chains, Puducherry Electricity Minister T. Thiagarajan, who also holds the Education portfolio, said on Friday.
He was speaking to The Hindu a day after the School Education Department backed down on its proposal to include overcoats in the uniform for girl students and withdrew the idea.
Mr. Thiagarajan said the term “overcoat” itself is a misnomer.
The government was considering changing the uniforms anyway and instead of the earlier dupatta, many principals thought that a waistcoat over the student’s uniform would be more comfortable for them to wear. In this weather, the government could not even think of introducing a full-sleeved overcoat.
Seeking to clarify the controversial decisions made by the government with regard to the dress code for girl students and having separate buses for girls and boys, Mr. Thiagarajan said, “There was no official decision made, nor was there a formal order given for any of these changes. They were just suggestions that were received during the meeting that we could possibly implement to improve the standards of education.”
The meeting itself was aimed at improving the quality of government schools, since there has recently been large-scale migration of students from government to private schools. The government is looking at encouraging students to stay in public schools.
As for separate buses, the decision was only taken after several complaints from parents and principals. Buses are often crowded and several “unwanted elements” board school buses when they see girls. The idea was to make girls students feel more comfortable riding the bus, he said.
They were also planning to start moral studies in schools and work with the Welfare Department to provide counselling to help the students.
“I did not realise that these decisions would create such a furore. None of them can be implemented until the stakeholders and the Chief Minister have been consulted. Several media reports had misunderstood the intention with which these decisions were taken. Unfortunately, I left for Yanam for the People’s Festival as soon as the meeting was completed, and was unable to clarify,” he said.
On Thursday, the government decided to revoke the switch from dupattas to the overcoat, according to a release from the Education Department.