The gender-inclusive learning environment created by the 106-year-old Government Lower Primary School at Valayanchirangara in Ernakulam district has hit the limelight again amid the ongoing discussions in the State for ensuring gender equality in and through education.
A social media post by V. Sivankutty, Minister for General Education, in support of the campaign for gender inclusion recalled that the Valayanchirangara Government Lower Primary School had set an example by introducing unisex uniform in 2019. “We need similar efforts to achieve the goal of gender equality in education and other fields” he said.
The Hindu had carried a report on the school’s gender-neutral uniform and progressive outlook back in 2019.
Raji C., former headmistress, said gender-neutral uniforms were introduced for children of the pre-primary section as an experiment in 2018. “It was a success and provided us with the confidence to extend it to the over 500 children in the lower primary section. The girls were happy, as their skirts were replaced by knee-length shorts to facilitate easy movement and break the conventional thought that they need to wear skirts,” she added.
Benoy Peter, former president of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and executive director of the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development, said that the school had always taken the lead in propagating gender-inclusive learning models on the campus. “We had come up with handbooks that carried images of a father making snacks instead of the usual picture of the mother preparing them for the children. It also included images of differently abled children aimed at conveying the message of inclusivity among stakeholders,” he said.
Ms. Raji said the school logo had the image of a girl and a boy as part of sustained efforts to ensure gender equality. “We had also implemented a social audit through which students of Master of Social Work at the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, were invited to the school to assess the skills and capabilities of our children,” she added.
The school authorities pointed out that parents had also cooperated with their gender inclusive initiatives.