School uniforms were compulsory in my school, as is the case with most schools, public and private, in India. The only place I don’t see uniforms in action are the low rung government schools where the wards of the people on the lower end of the economic scale have to be lured in by (positive) gimmicks such as the mid day meal. It makes sense too, it is already a giant leap forward for these kids to be attending school, no need to make it even harder for them by making uniforms compulsory.
So where exactly does the debate begin? Frankly, I didn’t even think this was a topic worth discussing since I already am long out of school and I don’t have any children to send to school, but a bit of browsing on the internet made me think, could something like this have an effect on the students? Let’s discuss.
Having school uniforms gives a sense of camaraderie in the students. It makes the students appreciate their classmates as being equal to them. Hence, it reduces chances of bullying over choice of clothes/accessories and doesn’t let a social class divide to arise.
A corollary to the above point would be that it demolishes already existing class/economic barriers. I shared a class with sons of millionaires (black money) and with the son of the school peon. Had there been no uniforms the difference would have been glaring but nowhere during my days of schooling, I found any visual difference between the two.
It increases a sense of belonging in the students and adds to the school pride. A lot of times, competing schools even get into feuds as to which one is better. The styling of the uniform is always a comparison point.
It encourages discipline. Most of the times, the uniform not only prescribes a particular shirt and pant/skirt but also rules out outlandish hairbands or chains or unnecessary accessories used to up the cool quotient or risque styles of wearing said dresses.
The most important point in favour of school uniforms is the easiness in identifying intruders on campus. Today’s world is not safe. Period. While it is true that the kids can anyway be kidnapped off the street while going to or returning from the school, having the school safe is a welcome comforting thought to a parent.
The biggest con here is the violation of freedom of expression. With just the school uniform to rely on, the creativity, uniqueness and individuality are seriously compromised on. Also consider the fact that students in India are merely followers, very few become leaders. Having a freedom of choice in clothes from an early age could at least let the kids explore their own identity, experiment a bit, try a few new things and whatnot. Only by taking smalls decisions on their individual will would prepare them for taking bigger decisions as they grow up.
Another con here would be the financial trouble the parents would face having to constantly get new clothes for their fast growing kids. It may not be a concern for the likes of you and me dear reader but it is for the not so well earning poor people who would skip a meal to save for their ward’s tuition fee.
What are your thoughts on school uniforms? Do let me know in the comments section below.