Ideas and methods all around the world are changing at an amazing pace. The necessity of school uniform in today’s education system has become a much debated topic. One needs to take a look at both the sides of the coin to ascertain whether students should wear school uniforms. As far as the debate on the need of school uniforms is concerned, proponents and opponents have extreme views.
The Debate regarding School Uniforms
Like all polarizing subjects, both sides have equally valid arguments. There is lack of ‘uniformity’, as far as this issue is concerned, among educators worldwide. While in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, schools make it necessary for the students to wear uniforms, in the US, it has been restricted to private schools.
One side sees uniforms as bringing much-needed equality among students, while the others see it as a practice promoting conformity. Individualists abhor uniformity of all kinds, while conservationists believe them to be necessary. The dissidents on the both sides of the fence have certain reservations on whether uniforms be made compulsory in schools. One needs to look at the rationale of groups who advocate the inclusion of uniform in schools and of those who feel that students are better off without wearing one, to arrive at a decision.
Sense of Identity or Loss of Individuality?
Proponents: Uniform is must for an institution, as it helps in creating a sense of identity and a sense of belonging.
Opponents: Students shouldn’t be compelled to wear a uniform, as it takes away their individuality from them.
Proponents: As far as individuality is concerned, people may judge you by what you wear, but they will like or dislike you on the basis of your personality.
Opponents: Every pupil is different, and it is the responsibility of a teacher to look into the positives of every student; absence of uniforms is not going to help people like or dislike you.
Proponents: Uniforms help create a disciplined atmosphere and therefore, it should be introduced in schools where it is not prevalent.
Opponents: The idea of uniforms was based on the archaic education module, but in the present scenario, where the focus has shifted to modern education and individuality, uniforms are absolutely unnecessary.
Cost Factor and Divide – A Problem?
Proponents: Uniforms don’t cost a fortune. And also, no school persuades pupils to buy one of an expensive brand.
Opponents: Most parents want quality education for their children, they would prefer not to spend money on uniforms.
Proponents: School uniforms are available across a range of prices so that every pupil can afford it.
Opponents: Rather than spending money on buying a uniform which their ward will never get to wear outside the school premises, the same can be used in buying books or other stuff which will actually be of some good use for their children.
Proponents: If pupils are allowed to shun their uniforms and turn up in any costume they want, it will definitely create a divide between pupils who can afford stylish clothes and those who are from modest background.
Opponents: Every pupil need not wear stylish clothes, not wearing uniforms merely means wearing something comfortable, not expensive.
Class Divide or Rule Establishment?
Proponents: In schools where a uniform is not compulsory, pupils from richer families may show off their latest brands of outfits, footwear, and accessories.
Opponents: There are other factors that contribute to distinctions between pupils, like the car their parents have, which neighborhood they live in, the brand of bags and pens used.
Proponents: In an atmosphere where students show off, pupils from humble backgrounds will either find themselves ostracized, or they will push their parents in getting the same things as their mates.
Opponents: Pupils don’t spend their entire day in a school. They have a personal and social life after the school-hours during which the school can’t force them into wearing a uniform.
Proponents: A uniform acts a great leveler, and there is no distinction between the rich and the poor.
Opponents: In pursuit of a classless society, authorities will have to curb everything that promotes individuality. Instead of using uniforms to promote equality, students should be taught the values of mutual respect and discipline, which will stay with them for their lifetime.
Responsibility or Inter-school Bullying?
Proponents: Uniforms make students more responsible; they act as an identification when students are traveling, and also prevents them from indulging in anti-social behavior, as they can easily be identified.
Opponents: Uniforms create strong distinctions between pupils from different schools, leading to bullying and gang wars. Also, it makes them more susceptible to crimes, as they can be easily singled out in a crowd.
Equality or Discomfort?
Proponents: Uniformity in dress is the only way in which we can maintain equality in a multicultural society, otherwise parents may dress up their kids as per their customs, making it difficult for students to gel with each other.
Opponents: The world has already been polarized on the basis of religion, race and ethnicity; it is the duty of the teachers to prevent the sentiment of intolerance from simmering into students.
Proponents: Uniforms are comfortable in a school atmosphere, rather than regular clothes.
Opponents: Uniforms are not designed according to students’ convenience; they are produced in bulk, which may cause inconvenience to pupils, as they have to wear something they are not comfortable in.
Proponents: For example, if a girl wears a sequined dress, she will feel uncomfortable all day and wouldn’t be able to concentrate on her studies too; this may not happen if she has a comfortable uniform.
Opponents: For example, if a girl suffers from a skin disease and has rashes on her legs, she would avoid wearing skirts and will stick to trousers. But if uniforms are compulsory, she will feel embarrassed.
Each side has its own arguments on the issue of uniform in schools. Creating a universal rule that applies to students across the globe might not be a good idea at all, as each country is different. So, the best way forward on this issue can be an understanding between the school authorities and the parents. There should be a consensus on whether the uniform is required or not. Such a scenario would also help the school authorities, as they will be acting in the interest of pupils and their guardians.