An elite co-educational school in Kerala’s Kottayam district, known for being liberal and culturally progressive, thinks a “healthy relationship” between boys and girls can be encouraged by asking them to keep a distance.
Pallikoodam has a separate section in its general note, issued earlier this year, about the relationship between boys and girls in the school where “due respect is given to both”.
In order to inculcate “healthy relationship” between boys and girls, the school says children must follow the “acceptable” and must not “move into corners and lonely areas and show open signs of affection”.
“Boys and girls will behave on campus with utmost respect towards each other. The distance between a boy and a girl at all times is to be one meter.... Boys and girls in senior classes are requested to avoid friendship with those in the lower classes,” said the general note.
Pallikoodam was established in 1967 by Mary Roy, the mother of Man Booker prize winner Arundhati Roy, who is known for her fight against gender discrimination within the Syrian Christian community in Kerala. The school boasts of innovative teaching methods, avoids examinations until Class 8 and lays emphasis on extracurricular activities.
Such diktats are not uncommon in educational institutions across the country and a number of engineering colleges in Chennai do not allow boys and girls to talk to each other on their premises.
Recently, Sri Sairam Engineering College in Chennai issued an internal circular purportedly containing various dress and moral codes for girl students. The circular lists 14 “Big NOs for girl students” and other instructions for both genders.
“No birthday celebrations, no mobiles, no pen drives, should not have an account in Facebook, WhatsApp, should not talk to boy students,” said the college in its special instructions to girls.