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Kerala school says no more ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, only ‘teachers’

Kerala school says no more 'sir' or 'madam', only 'teachers'

Ground Report | New Delhi: Kerala school teacher; A school in Kerala has adopted the gender-neutral word “teacher” instead of “sir” and “madam” greetings. Students and teachers of the 72-year-old Senior Basic School at Olassery in Palakkad district have more or less adjusted the gender-neutral expression since December 1, when the staff council decided to look at it further.

“We took the decision after holding a staff meeting. The parents also strongly supported the move. It has been implemented as part of introducing the gender-neutral concept in our school,” Venugopalan said. Students have started embracing the change. “Initially, we would hear some students addressing the male teacher as ‘sir’. However, they would immediately replace it with ‘teacher’,” the headmaster said. There are over 300 students studying in the government-aided school with eight male and nine female teachers.

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According to Senior Basic School principal H. Venugopalan, the idea of ​​addressing teachers by gender on the basis of their designation was put forward by one of the staff members and later approved by the Staff Council.

He said the male teachers were inspired by the campaign of Boban Mattumantha, a social activist who has been advocating for gender-neutral titles for government officials and to do away with the practice of calling them, sir and madam.

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Mattumantha is a Palakkad-based social activist fighting for universal adoption of gender-neutral greetings and ending subordinating uses in applications for government services. It is his campaign that inspired the Mathur Panchayat, which in turn influenced many local bodies to remove the remains of Raj like “Sir” and “Madam”.

While more than 50 percent of the students quickly adjusted to the new way of addressing their teachers, the principal said some were taking time. “We often find some students addressed as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’, but immediately go to ‘Teacher’. But this in itself is an encouraging sign because now everyone calls us just ‘Teacher’. understands the convenience of addressing as such,” Venugopalan said.

Commenting on the decision, Panchayat President Pravita Muraleedharan had said that it is time to do away with the use of Sir and Madam, which was a colonial legacy.

“People have supreme power in a democracy and we have decided to stay away from saluting Sir/Madam. Any person visiting our office need not address the Panchayat Samiti members or office staff as Sir,” she had said in a statement.

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Recently several schools in Kerala also switched to gender-neutral uniforms for students. Balussery Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode district was one of the first schools to implement unisex uniforms.

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