No ‘sir’ or ‘madam’, only ‘teacher’ in Kerala schools

In a big step towards gender-neutrality, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) on Wednesday directed all the schools of the state to address school teachers as “teacher” instead of “sir” or “madam.

A Bench, comprising panel chairperson K V Manoj Kumar and member C Vijayakumar directed the General Education Department to give instructions to use the term ‘teacher’ in all schools in the State.


The state child rights body argued that “teacher” is a more gender-neutral term than honorifics like “sir” or “madam” to address them and added that the term ‘teacher’ would bring children and teachers closer. The order was passed while taking into consideration a plea filed by an individual looking to end the bigotry in Kerala schools while addressing teachers ‘madam’ or ‘sir’ as per their gender.

A Bench, comprising panel chairperson K V Manoj Kumar and member C Vijayakumar, on Wednesday directed the General Education Department to give instructions to use the term ‘teacher’ in all schools in the State.

‘A big step’

The latest direction has been hailed by former Kerala child rights commission member Advocate J Sandhya who called the move “a big step from a gender viewpoint”. Sandhya was quoted by a private TV news channel as saying: “Our conditioning is such that when we hear ‘nurse’, we immediately think of a female, and when we hear ‘pilot’, we immediately think it’s male.” The students are taught about gender sensitivity but in practice they used gender denoting terms unnecessarily. She added: “The mindset has to change, and any move in that direction is a welcome step.”

‘Action-taken report sought in two months’ 

The state child rights panel asked the Director of the General Education Department to present an action-taken report within two months.  It is expected that the students will build a better relationship with their teachers and make them more comfortable in sharing their thoughts and ideas. Besides, the move will lead to a more effective learning environment for the students.



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