Punjab education minister suspends 2 officials for telling teachers to dress ‘decently’

Aruna Chaudhary

Upset over the instructions sent to government school teachers to dress ‘decently’, Punjab education minister Aruna Chaudhary on Tuesday ordered the suspension of two officials of her department with immediate effect.

Chaudhary said that the department officials had sent the instructions to schools across the state at their own level without taking any order from their seniors. “These instructions reflect an old mindset. I do not agree with them. When we are encouraging girls to do well in every field and working on women empowerment, instructions on how to dress and what to wear are not acceptable,” Chaudhary said over phone.

The minister said that she had given orders to the department to place deputy director Amrish Shukla and assistant director Amarbir Singh under suspension for sending such instructions and take action against them. The instructions issued by director public instructions (secondary education) Sukhdev Singh Kahlon had asked all district education officers and school principals to ensure that teachers wear “decent” clothes to schools.

Read More | No fashionable clothes, please: Punjab school teachers told to dress ‘decently’

“Sarkari schoolan vich adhyapakaan duara, khas taur te ladies adhyapakaan duara, bhadkeele pehnawe pa ke apni duty keeti jaandi hai. Kai ladies teachers duara jeans-top te kai tarah de uksaau, fashionable dress pehen ke school duty keeti jaandi hai… jis da vidyarthiyan ’te asar penda hai (Teachers, particularly female teachers, wear bright/glittery clothes on duty in government schools. Many female teachers wear jeans and top, and many types of provocative and fashionable clothes on duty…..which has an effect on the students,” read the instructions.

When contacted, Shukla said he had heard that the government was initiating action against them, denying any fault or intention to embarrass it. “Someone had complained to the chief minister in writing regarding teachers not coming to schools dressed properly. The complaint letter was marked to the department. There were already instructions sent to the districts on this in 2012 and endorsed in 2014. The instructions were simply reiterated. There was probably an oversight. We should have checked with the government,” he said.

What teachers say

Teachers are role models so they must dress up decently. A few teachers wear jeans and short tops that may have a negative impact on children who get more interested in dressing up fashionably than concentrating on studies.

_Chander Mohini, English lecturer at Government Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana

Teachers must maintain decorum. Women should wear decent dresses to school and avoid anything that distracts students.

_Jasbir Singh, teacher at a government school in Mohali

Sometimes few teachers wear inappropriate clothes to school but for this the authorities can’t issue directions for every woman teacher. The language used in the order was offensive and unacceptable.

_Navneet Kaur, science teacher at Government Senior Secondary School (Boys), Jawahar Nagar, Ludhiana

Such orders are unjustified. Most teachers wear sober clothes to school anyway so there is no need for any directive.

_Shalini Sharma, primary government school teacher in Ludhiana

Every teacher knows she needs to dress up decently. There is no need for a diktat. Why are women teachers told how to dress up? Why aren’t male teachers asked to come in dhotis and knee-length kurtas? We have debates on this in schools, too.