Punjab’s director for public instructions (DPI), secondary, has written to all district education officers (DEOs) and principals to ensure that teachers wear decent clothes to school. The motivation behind the orders is cited as complaints by parents of students about teachers, particularly women, wearing “provocative”, “glittery” and “fashionable” clothes.
The order says in Punjabi: “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.” Translated: “In government schools, teachers, particulary female teachers, wear bright/glittery clothes on duty. Many female teachers wear jeans and top, and many types of provocative and fashionable clothes on duty… which has an effect on the students.”
While schools have also been asked to implement a dress code, its particulars have not been defined in the order by DPI (S) Sukhdev Singh Kalhon. DEOs have been directed to conduct surprise checks.
The orders have irked teachers.
Varinder Pathak, a chemistry lecturer in a government school , said, “I think teachers should be given the liberty to wear clothes of their choice. If a teacher is wearing jeans or other western outfits, there is no harm in it.”
Another government school teacher, Anu Verma, argued that the order lacks logic “as few teachers wear jeans”. “It is mostly observed that female teachers wear suits (salwar-kameez) and have proper dressing sense,” she said.
“The higher authorities must focus on how to improve education standards in Punjab. Instead, they are busy in issuing such directions that are not required,” she added.
This is not the first time such orders have been issued in Punjab. In 2012, the state’s then director general of school education (DGSE), Kahan Singh Pannu, had directed all school teachers to follow a “decent” dress code in schools.