Citing protection and comfort, the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) has advocated pants or salwar suits as the uniform for girl students from class 1 to 10 in schools.
KSCPCR has submitted a proposal to the Commissioner of the Department of School Education and Literacy (DSEL) asking to ‘revisit the rules and regulations of uniforms prescribed in schools, if possible, and make an alteration in the rules of uniforms for overall development of girl students’.
According to the Karnataka Education Act, 1983, educational institutions are free to prescribe uniforms to their students. While government, aided and private schools prescribe shirts, shorts or pants for boys, most private school managements have prescribed skirts for girl students, whereas wearing salwar suits is compulsory in Kendriya Vidyalaya schools, among others. This also differs among government schools.
Recently, the Deputy Director of Department of Women and Child Development of Kalaburagi district submitted a proposal to the KSCPCR saying, “Wearing a skirt is a part of the uniform for all girl students in all government, aided and private schools in Karnataka. However, they feel uncomfortable, while they travel in busses, walking in a crowd, peddling a cycle and playing in the ground, and they have complained to us in this regard. We could see various sexual harassment cases on girls. Therefore, due to the protection and comfortability, girl students are better off wearing pants and salwar suits, instead of skirts. This is the public opinion too.”
K. Naganna Gowda, Chairman of KSCPCR, submitted the same proposal to the DSEL, and requested necessary action .
Mr. Gowda told The Hindu, “A skirt is uncomfortable for girls students while they are sitting, playing, peddling a cycle, and other activities. Deputy Director of Department of Women and Child development of Kalaburagi district has submitted the proposal in this regard. We could see various cases of teenage pregnancy, sexual harassment of girls in the school and outside of it. Therefore, we collected students’ opinion on this issue. Most girls expressed an opinion that wearing pants or salwar suits is better than a skirt. Therefore, we submitted the proposal to the DSEL, and are awaiting their response.”
The Hindu spoke to some girl students, people working in the field of child rights and school managements on the issue.
A student of an elite private school in Bengaluru said, “We have no problem wearing a skirt in school. We never think it is uncomfortable. While we are playing, we wear sports dress. I don’t think wearing a skirt is the only reason for harassment of girls.”
A girl from a Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) school said, “Government is providing salwar suits as a uniform to us, and it is very comfortable to wear. As a teenage girl, safety and protection are important factors. It would be better if the government prescribes salwar suits for all girl students.”
Child rights activist G. Nagasimha Rao said, “There is imposition of a uniform on children since three to four years from the government. Children have rights, and we must respect their rights. Before imposing any uniform, DSEL and KSCPCR must consult girl students. They know best which uniform is comfortable for them.”
Harshakumar N., Chairman, Sadhana Public School, Bengaluru, said, “We adopted salwar suits for girl students from classes 5 to 10 in our school. Adulthood and teenage years are very sensitive stages of development for students. Most girl students like to wear comfortable dresses.”