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In this Kerala school, students call teachers 'teacher', not 'sir' or 'madam'

In India, students have for years referred to their male teachers as 'sir'
Last Updated : 09 January 2022, 02:49 IST
Last Updated : 09 January 2022, 02:49 IST

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A school in Kerala has taken a big leap towards ensuring gender neutrality in educational spaces, the administration has mandated that students address their teacher as simply "teacher" and not gender-defining terms of "sir" or "madam."

In India, students have for years referred to their male teachers as "sir" and their female educators as "madam" or some other version of it, like "ma'am."

The government-aided Senior Basic School in Olassery village in Palakkad district has become the first school in the state to bring this gender-neutral norm, according to a report by The Indian Express.

Along the same lines, several schools in the state have also adopted gender-neutral uniforms for students.

In Palakkad, the school headmaster Venugopalan H told the publication about the events surrounding the landmark rule.

“One of our staff members, Sajeev Kumar V, broached the idea of abandoning the practice of male teachers being addressed as sir. He was inspired by the campaign launched by Palakkad-based social activist Boban Mattumantha to do away with the practice of addressing government officials as ‘sir’,” he said.

Mattumantha has approached the government to abolish the practice of addressing government officials as "sir" or "madam."

However, another influence for the school is a panchayat 14 kilometres away. Mathoor panchayat in July last year did away with the norm of calling officials by their gendered association and instead opted for addressing them by their designation.

“We thought why can’t we introduce the same change at our school to bring gender neutrality in addressing teachers. The move was welcomed by the parents as well,” the headmaster reportedly said.

According to Venugopal, after initial inhibition, students at the school slowly began addressing their teachers as "teachers."

"Now, nobody calls a male teacher ‘sir’,” he said.

Mattumantha, the activist, feels this will create awareness about gender justice among students. He says the address of "sir" is a relic of the colonial era and it should be done away with.

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Published 08 January 2022, 13:01 IST

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