Management of several private schools in Kerala, India, want women teachers to adopt a dress code to avoid prying eyes of male students. They have suggested teachers wear an apron or an overcoat "to cover themselves properly" in class. There isn't a formal diktat but it's the talk of staff rooms after many women teachers noticed students taking pictures of them with mobile cameras.
"We have received many complaints of students clicking photographs of teachers in saris while they write on the blackboard. Most of these images find their way to popular social networking sites,'' said Kerala CBSE School Management Association president T P M Ibrahim Khan. He admitted the ban on mobiles on campus isn't working. This has forced many schools in the state to ask lady teachers to wear an overcoat or apron on top of their sari or churidhar-kameez.
"We also received many complaints that unruly comments about teachers' anatomy appearing as graffiti on toilet walls,'' Khan said. "This decision has been taken only to ensure proper respect for their privacy. We don't want to hurt anyone by implementing this.'' Though Khan is candid in his admission, school managements cite other reasons to justify the apron code. While some managements maintain it is to bring in uniformity in teachers' dressing, others say it is for adding a style quotient. For some others it is for teachers' convenience to "carry chalk and pen''.
"Apart from urban schools, mofussil institutions are also practising this. I personally believe that teachers are role models and need to dress in a decent manner, whether there is a dress code or not," said Kerala CBSE School Management Association general secretary Indira Rajan. Not all teachers are pleased with the cover-up order. "As teachers we know what to wear. Sometimes senior students, especially boys, are curious, we hear comments, they laugh and make fun of us. But these are fine and have to be tackled in a different way,'' a woman teacher said.