Chandigarh all-boys school fights for girl child

May 22nd, 2009 - 9:39 am ICT by IANS  

By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, May 22 (IANS) One of the city’s oldest schools - a well known all-boys institution at that - has quietly taken up the cause of the girl child. The effort of St. Johns High School certainly counts as the Punjab-Haryana region is notorious for low sex ratios.

As part of the golden jubilee celebrations of the school in Chandigarh, it is not only sensitising its own students but through them also reaching out to other sections of society to spread the message of saving and empowering girls.

“We started the programme last summer and our teachers have done their job by inculcating among our students the values of women’s empowerment, equal rights and the status of women through various activities,” said the school principal who did not wish to be named as she thought the good deed is what counts.

“We linked our morning assembly meetings, debates, discussions and special periods with the girl child. We even introduced the concept in the school syllabus and worksheets of students,” she added.

“We wanted to portray the female as a metaphor of power and not as a marginalised individual in the eyes of young boys,” pointed out the principal.

The students have since then been coming up with innovative ideas to spread the message among the masses.

As part of the campaign, the students of Classes 6, 7, 8 and 10 bring out rallies and conduct awareness workshops in slum areas and other neighbourhoods where vulnerable sections of society live.

They also bring girls from these areas to the school campus in school buses to teach them and involve them in constructive activities.

A volunteer from Class 10 said: “I have learnt so many things by participating in this campaign. I really love to interact with these children and to help them in their studies and other work.”

Every week the students devote at least four hours to the cause. Punjab has a sex ratio of 783 women for 1,000 men and for Haryana the figure is 864 women for 1,000 men.

The principal said, “After seeing the plight of the girl child in this region and to sensitise young minds on the issue, our seniormost brother, Philip Pinto, came up with the idea to celebrate the golden jubilee year of our school in Chandigarh.”

St. Johns High School, which is up to Class 10, is one of the oldest schools in Chandigarh. It was established in 1959 and around 2,000 boys study here. Congress MPs like Kapil Sibbal, Manish Tiwari and advisor to Chandigarh administration Pardeep Mehra are among its alumni.

Former students have formed the St Johns Old Boys Association (SJOBA), with over 3,000 members. They too are quite enthusiastic about the initiative.

Khushwant Singh, a Chandigarh-based author, who passed out of the school in 1989, said, “The message gains credence from the point of view that female foeticide is a direct result of the desire for a boy and what better place to launch a campaign such as this from an all boys school.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s parents and gender sensitisation is important for a healthy society.”

Chitranjan Agarwal, president of SJOBA, said, “St. Johns has picked up a very relevant issue of society, especially in this region where the sex ratio is very dismal.”

“The most interesting thing is that the boys are sensitising families by highlighting the discrimination of girls,” said Agarwal who is a chartered accountant based here.

The old alumni of St. Johns High School include senior politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats spread all over the world.

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at

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