Students in Kerala can now breathe a sigh of relief. On Thursday, a school in Thiruvananthapuram welcomed girl students after 40 years. This move comes soon after the State government’s decision to implement co-education systems in Kerala schools from the academic year 2023-24.
On Thursday, The Government Model Boy’s Higher Secondary School in Chalai, Thiruvanathapuram, witnessed a peculiar sight. 12 girls’ students stepped into the school for the first time in what was known as the oldest all-boys school in the state. The students were welcomed by kerala transport minister Antony Raju and were gifted samplings as a welcome gift.
Following the landmark order by the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights to only allow co-education in the southern state, the once-only boys’ school welcomed a new batch of students for the science and humanities stream in Class XI.
How did students react to the new environment?
The new applicants expressed their joy in being able to study in an inclusive environment.
“Not in favor of how gender is being construed or taught in society presently. We are supposed to be studying together. So I came to study like that,” a new student, who had earlier studied in an all-girls school, added.
The 203 year old school, wasnt always an all-boys high school.
the school at Chalai, after its inception in 1819 , ran predominantly as a co-ed institution. However, to accommodate an ever increasing load of students, the school was divided as one for girls, for boys, and a separate school in tamil medium.
How did parents react to the landmark hearing ?
Soon after the order, the PTA of the school approached the Education Minister of the state to facilitate the changes required. From the current academic year, starting from Class XI, the school will be open for both boys and girls.
Parents of one of the new joiness recalled how their daughter desired to study in a co-ed institution. This led them to admit her to the school.
The promotion of gender neutrality and inclusion in schools was welcomed by many.
After a plea was filed in the Kerala court, an action plan was recommended to the State Council For Education. Based on the action plan, it was decided to stop exclusive all-girls and all-boys schools in Kerala, instead paving way to build co-ed institutions in the state from the next academic year of 2023-24. Besides the new system, the order also recommended creating awareness about the need for co-ed education among parents and improving basic facilities and safety at schools.
Addressing the media, Education Minister V Sivankutty asserted that 11 single gender schools in government and aided sectors were converted into co-education institutions in the last year alone.
“If the school authorities, the PTA, and the local bodies concerned take a collective decision and demand the conversion of single-gender schools to co-eds, the government would give consent.” the Minister added.
Official figures show that there are abouts 280 girls’ schools and 164 boys’ schools scattered across the southern state.
Taking baby steps, the Pinarayi Vijayan government has taken a leap to ensure progressive policies for younger generations. However, will State governments from other states of the country look up to this novel step? Only time will tell.