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A school at Aruvithura in Kottayam, Kerala, has found itself in the middle of a raging controversy that recently erupted online. It was the design of its new school uniform that triggered the entire debate. Ever since photographer Zachariah Ponkunnam posted an image of the same on Facebook and reportedly described it as “vulgar”, the school has been at the receiving end of immense criticism and complaints. In fact, the barrage of complaints prompted the school to appoint a five-member PTA executive committee to look into the complaints. According to a report in The Times of India, the PTA held an emergency meeting on Saturday afternoon.
A The News Minute report says that the school’s PTA has decided to alter the uniform for girls of classes 5 to 10 as students feel disturbed after the incident. They will now wear an overcoat instead of the ‘controversial half jacket’ and the expenses for the change will be borne by the school.
It all started with Ponkunnam ‘s Facebook post in which the photographer shared a picture of three girls in uniform, condemning the school for such a “vulgar” uniform.”This is the uniform that students wear in a school in Aruvithura. Look, how vulgarly it has been designed. Respond !” read his post when translated in English.
Though he later removed the post, it soon went viral and was shared around 5,000 times in a single day. Screenshots of the same were also taken and widely circulated; expectantly many on social media attacked the school authorities and called them out on their decision of designing such a uniform.
Another news organisation also shared a post, claiming it to be the deleted post of Ponkunnam. The post when translated read, “This is the uniform that students wear in a school in Aruvithura. See, how pathetically it has been designed. Such sort of uniform, designed by mindless people, should have been avoided for students. I urge all those parents and others to respond to this if they can see this vulgarity. Please share this post, let it reach before the eyes of authorities.”
Speaking to TOI, Ponkunnam said, “A friend from Erattupetta saw the students in new uniform and clicked a photo. He sent it to me. After blurring their faces, I posted it on Facebook on Friday night, asking those on social media to react to this vulgar design and demanded a change.“According to a report in The News Minute, a person called Noushad Thekkayil from Kozhikode filed a complaint against the school authorities with the Child Rights Commission over the ‘inappropriateness’ of the school uniform. In the complaint, he demanded that action ought to be taken against the school at the earliest.
The school authorities, however, refused to take any blame for it. In an explanation given by the school, the Principal of the institution Sr Rosily said the photo of the uniform which went viral was not similar to the original to the original uniform.
“They are spreading a photograph which has been photoshopped. We have not received any complaints from the parents regarding the uniform till now. We have given complaint with the police against such defamatory campaigns against the school. We have also appointed a five-member PTA executive committee to enquire whether there are any complaints regarding the school uniform. We would take further action after the report from the committee,” principal told The News Minute.
Sabu Cyriac, PTA President, insisted that there was no problem with the uniform, and that no parent or student complained against it. “We chose the design from a booklet that illustrated various types of uniforms. The school purchased the cloth and stitched the uniform for its students. Obscenity is in the eyes of the beholder,“ he said.