Gender-exclusivity nearing closure as ‘historic’ institutions turn co-ed in Kerala

The change was triggered by a directive from the panel for protection of child rights.
45 schools in the state has turned into co-eds so far.
45 schools in the state has turned into co-eds so far.

KOCHI: People sat up and took notice when Kerala’s oldest boys-only school -- the 189-year-old Sree Moola Vilasam School, better known as SMV School, in Thiruvananthapuram -- opened its doors to girls in 2023.

That was just the beginning. As of now, 45 schools -- both government and aided -- have shifted to co-education. Two prestigious colleges -- St Berchmans College and Assumption College in Changanassery -- too have joined the league of co-ed institutions. The trigger for this change was the Kerala State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights’ (KSCPCR) directive that schools exclusively for boys and girls should cease to exist from the 2023-24 academic year.

If the increase in the number of applicants is anything to go by, the student community and the management of the educational institutions are happy with the change.

“The directive is a boon for the school,” a teacher with the SRV High School in Ernakulam told TNIE.

“It helps increase the student strength which has been a worrying factor for nearly all schools in the state.”

Having turned co-ed this academic year, SRV saw only five female students joining Classes VIII, IX and X, but the faculty hopes the numbers will increase in the next academic year. 

Meanwhile, the two Changanassery colleges are doing great in terms of applications received from students of the opposite gender.

“We received applications from 250 male students when we opened the gates of our women-only college,” says Assumption College principal Fr Thomas Palathara. “Of the 250 applicants, 146 gained admissions to various courses. We have more boys for the BCA and BBA courses.”

In SB College, admissions to the undergraduate courses saw girls outnumbering boys. “Nearly 70% of the students who got admission to various programs are girls,” a faculty member says.

But what attracted these students to the colleges?

Felix Varghese, who has joined the BCom Logistics and Marketing course at Assumption, says: “The main reason is the fact that this is a college which has produced many well-known names in the country. And some of my acquaintances, like a teacher who had taught me in school, suggested the college.”

Similar is the case with Athira Mohan, who joined the BCom course at SB College.

“We have been hearing about the college and the quality of education provided here. Until this year, girls could enter the campus only when they joined a postgraduate course or were research scholars. But the move to open the doors to girls has enabled many like me to walk through the hallowed corridors and classrooms of this prestigious college,” says Athira, an Aranmula resident, who plans to be a day scholar.

For Nirmal Jayan from Alappuzha, who got admission to the BCom Finances and Taxation course at Assumption, it was the quality of the teachers and the discipline on the campus that got him hooked.

Linto Elavankalam, who has joined the Museology and Archaeology course at Assumption College, said, “It is high time the society did away with the male-female classifications and promoted equality. Both genders should have access to quality education. The recent move paves the way for it, and thereby, a progressive society.”

The right change

There has been an increase in the number of applicants of the opposite gender, which serves as a testimony that the student community and the management of the educational institutions are happy with the right change. According to the teachers, the directive has helped increase student strength which had been worrying almost all schools in the state

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