Thursday was a historic day for the Government Model Boys Higher Secondary School in Chalai, in Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram as it welcomed girl students for the first time in four decades.
A total of 12 girls have been admitted to the science and humanities stream in Class XI.
On their first day at school on Thursday, the girl students were welcomed by Kerala Transport Minister Antony Raju who also gave them saplings.
Antony Raju/ Facebook
Want to study in co-ed school
One of the new joinees, who studied till Class X at a girls-only school said she wanted to study in a co-ed system.
“Not in favour of how gender is being construed or taught in society presently. We are supposed to be studying together. So I came here to study like that,” she said.
The parents of a girl student told the media that their daughter had expressed her wish to study along with boys in the school and therefore, they admitted her there.
Co-ed school became boys only after division
The school which was established in 1819 had started out as a co-ed institution, but due to an increase in the number of pupils over the years, it was split into three separate schools for boys, girls, and another in Tamil medium.
However, after the Kerala government’s move to encourage gender neutrality in schools, which also gave an option to boy/girls only institutions to become co-eds, the PTA approached Education Minister V Sivankutty for the same.
And from the current academic year, starting with higher secondary, the school will be open for both boys and girls.
No more boys/girls only schools in Kerala
Last month, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights recommended that boys-only and girls-only schools in the state should be converted into co-education from the 2023-24 academic year.
According to official figures, there were 280 girls’ schools and 164 boys’ schools in the state.
The Commission has recommended that all these schools, be it government, private, or aided should switch to a co-education system from next year.
Education Minister V Sivankutty had said that 11 single-gender schools in government and aided sectors were converted into co-education ones in the past year.
If the school authorities, PTA, and local bodies concerned takes a collective decision and demand the conversion of single-gender schools to co-ed schools, the government would give consent,” the minister said.
Earlier this week, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the government was not forcing gender-neutral school uniforms and that it was the prerogative of the educational institutions to decide what kind of uniforms girls and boys should wear.
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