A dress and a tie may not be the ingredients for my favourite outfit, but if I were given the choice, I wouldn’t throw away the idea of wearing my school uniform again. Simply because wearing the school uniform is a badge of pride. I believe, not just for me but for many students all over the country. School uniforms create a feeling of oneness and belonging. Sri Lanka is famous for many things. White uniform-clad school children can only be found in Sri Lanka. Thus, when it comes to the dress code for public school children, the compulsory white uniform makes Sri Lanka stand out among the others.
Why school uniforms?
Well, school uniforms were first familiarised way back, during the British rule. It is believed that the Christ Hospital School in London in 1552 was the first school to use a school uniform. In England, particularly in charity schools the uniforms were provided free of charge to all the children. It had changed little or less over the time period. Usually, boys have to wear white or dark blue shorts or long trousers and white colour shirts. Girls’ uniforms usually consist of two parts sewn together. The top part is a shirt while the bottom part is a pleated skirt. It is the colour of the tie and the school logo that the white uniform is differentiated. The colour of the tie changes from school to school.
The way a person dress has the ability to reveal their personality and how they want to be perceived as. For an example the Head prefect of a school could be easily distinguished by the way he/she wears the uniform. There is a clear cut difference in between a prefect and a random student. Even when the random student takes an effort in dressing the uniform appropriately adhering to the rules, the uniform itself can adorn the students with a whole new personality than how he or she was used to be perceived before. I strongly believe the fact that the way someone dresses has the ability to reveal aspects of their true personality while at the same time it could enhance one’s self confidence and personality both.
Take extra note on eminent personalities who had won the hearts of millions of people out there. What draws a line between them and the rest of others is also contributed by the way they dress. Personalities of such eminent characters could be assessed within a few seconds. It also shows what their interests are, what their style is, and their background. It is distinct that what moulds a person in the near future is what they are accustomed to from their childhood.
Thereby the inclusion of a school uniform policy is favourable in terms of building a generation who are aware of the general idea of what a student can or cannot wear during the thirteen years of their school life. It provides a sense of belonging and a unique identity for the student. Also, it acts as a constant reminder for the student on how he or should behave as they themselves are a representation of the entire school.
It is highly regarded that wearing a uniform makes everyone equal. There is no competition among who could afford to wear the best brand which could otherwise put a great deal of financial pressure on students and parents. This type of restriction on the uniform hides the student’s social status thereby reducing the chance of being discriminated among the rest. Yes, School uniforms are unfashionable but yet an educational must.
Do Uniforms violate students’ right to freedom of expression?
Western countries have drifted from the concept of a compulsory uniform to allowing students to wear as they wish. Unlike in the west, here in Sri Lanka, forcing children to adhere to a strict uniform may look like inhibiting the students’ freedom to clothing and expressing themselves.
But think on the positive side. Having a uniform can be a safety net for many students who might otherwise suffer from bullying. A strict uniform gives the impression that rules are strict too, perhaps help to maintain a sense of order at school. A sense of loyalty emerges from inside ultimately influencing the student to incorporate self-discipline.
Making the uniform more practical
In districts like Moneragala, it is a shame to see school children wearing uniforms with neckties. The uniform at present is the least suitable for school children in the dry zone. Despite Moneragala being considered as the dry zone with very sultry weather conditions, children forced to adhere to a uniform with red neckties depict the need for somewhat a quick reorganisation in the dress code policy within the country.
Similar to providing equal education opportunity to all students, if the ministry is mulling over a change in the school uniforms, equal attention should be given. Particularly to areas where cold climates prevail in most parts of the year. None arguably such schools would be favoured by the inclusion of long sleeved tops and trousers.
A.V.Kariyawasam, the Minister of Education recently detailed that Ministry confidences to make some modifications regarding the school uniform and the dress code for pregnant teachers. Minister Kariyawasam further stated that the way by which we approach this situation should be changed immediately. Suitable uniforms will be assigned to each school based on the district and the different climates.
Making changes of this kind in a country like Sri Lanka provokes negative behaviour such as rebelliousness and riots in the general public. However, changes of this type in the above mentioned districts education system should be encouraged for the betterment of the younger generation as it is none other than them who will benefit from these changes immensely. All in all, in today’s society, students forget about the real reason of going to school and focus on their appearance and popularity. In order to put a stop to this attitude of the students the continuity of the policy of school uniforms is a must. This would cut back on the “socio-economic” differences which ultimately allows all the students to be equal.