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

The Senior Basic School in Olassery has become the first school in Kerala to ask its students to stop addressing their teachers as ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’.
For representational purpose. (File Photo | EPS)
For representational purpose. (File Photo | EPS)

PALAKKAD: Close on the heels of a school introducing gender-neutral uniform, another school in the state has decided to do away with gender-specific greetings to address teachers. The Senior Basic School in Olassery has become the first school in the state to ask its students to stop addressing their teachers as ‘Sir’ and ‘Madam’.

The idea was first proposed by a school staff, V Sajeev Kumar, said headmaster H Venugopalan. “We took the decision after holding a meeting of the staff. The parents were also very supportive of the move. It has been implemented as part of introducing the gender neutral concept in our school,” Venugopalan said.

The students slowly have started embracing the change. “Initially, we would overhear some students address the male teacher as ‘sir’. However, they would replace it immediately with ‘teacher’,” the headmaster said. As many as 300 students are studying at the government-aided school which has eight male and nine female teachers.

Social activist Bobban Mattumantha, who had initiated the campaign to abolish the use of ‘sir’ and ‘madam’ while addressing government officials, said it was time that schools adopted the concept. He said he has forwarded a memorandum in this regard to the government.

“The Congress-ruled Mathur panchayat was the first local body in the state to put up a board asking the public to address officials by their designations rather than ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. This would have definitely influenced the Senior Basic School, which is located just a few kilometres away,” said Bobban Mattumantha. According to him, addressing a person as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ is part of the vestiges of colonialism and has to be done away with. “This is why we approached the government to do away with these words. However, a decision is yet to be taken in this regard,” he said.

He said even women officers like the district collector are addressed as ‘sir’ in official correspondences. It will be interesting to note how the transgenders who are inducted into the government services are addressed, he said.

Bobban said that the memorandum to do away with ‘sir’ and ‘madam’ for government officers submitted by him has been forwarded by the Higher Education Council to the member secretary for consideration. “As per an RTI response, it will be implemented in schools only after a final decision is taken in this regard,” said Bobban.

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The New Indian Express