Girls school in Kerala gave relief of period leave to its students more than a century ago
Kochi,August21:Goverment records show that a girls school in Kerala had extended the relief of period leave to its students more than a century ago itself.
The government girls school in Tripunithura, located in the erstwhile princely state of Cochin (present Ernakulam district), had in 1912 allowed students to take ‘period leave’ during their annual examination and permitted them to write it later.
According to “Kerala in the 19th Century”, written by historian P Bhaskaranunni, the head-teacher of the school had approached the higher-ups and requested granting of leave as women teachers and students were normally absent during the time. Published by the Kerala Sahitya Akademi in 1988, the book is considered to be an authentic study on various aspects of the state during the 19th and early 20th century.
As per the then education laws, 300 days of attendance was necessary for students to appear for the annual examinations, the book said.
“Tests were conducted regularly and it was necessary for students to appear for the tests. But, it had become an issue in Tripunithura girls school where students and women teachers would not come during the time of menstruation,” it said. In view of their frequent absence, school headmaster V P Vishwanatha Iyer had approached the ‘school inspector’ in Thrissur and put forward the issue before him on January 19, 1912.
A favourable decision was taken by the authorities in this regard within the next five days, according to the book. “The education director had issued an order on January 24 stating that those students who were unable to write annual exams during the time of menstruation should be permitted to write the same on another occasion,” the book said.
It is interesting to note that the head teacher, who belonged to an upper class community, had approached the authorities to grant period leave to his students at a time when the subject was a taboo.
Over a century later, the issue has had its echo in the Kerala Assembly during the ongoing session with Congress legislator K S Sabarinathan urging the state government to consider granting menstrual leave to its employees. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had assured that the government would formulate a common stand after considering various aspects of the issue.