The great school uniform debate
The prosThe greatest advantages of wearing uniforms that proponents cite are (1) lack of hierarchy, (2) focusing students’ attention to education and away from “distractions,” like fashion, (3) sense of belonging and promotion of school spirit, (4) security in uniformity, making outsiders easier to spot, and (5) monetary savings. Because everyone’s wearing the same thing, the line between the rich and the poor is blurred and the distinction isn’t as obvious as when students are free to decide on their own outfits. This, supposedly, discourages the formation of cliques based on social status and gives the underprivileged more self-confidence as they’re less prone to discrimination and bullying. With the absence of personal style, fashion-reinforced stereotypes are also out of the equation. Since school uniforms are mostly more formal in appearance than regular street clothing, prescribing them is said to train students to dress appropriately for the academic setting (which, in turn, prepares them for business dressing). Actual monetary savings, in this case, is subjective and relies on the cost of the prescribed school uniforms vis-a-vis the cost of an individual’s “civilian” clothing, which varies greatly depending on one’s purchasing power and personal style. School uniforms for private universities, in particular, can be a financial burden for poorer students and their families.
The consOn the other hand, the main disadvantage of enforcing a school uniform rule is its effect on self-expression and personality development. Instead of encouraging and nurturing creativity and individuality in children in their formative years, forcing them to conform to a prescribed standard stifles these characteristics.
The alternativesEach side of the debate has their own valid arguments. But this is one debate that doesn’t necessarily have to a winner and a loser. A middle ground can be reached, as suggested by various education experts. A possible solution is for schools to have a dress code, or a set of allowed garments that students can wear in lieu of standard-issue uniforms. Another alternative is to give school leaders, administrators and stakeholders the power to decide on which scheme would work for their specific environments and populations, whether to enforce a classroom-attire rule (everyday or on select says) or to let students choose their own schoolwear with guidelines on what’s acceptable and proper. However, none of those proposals have gained traction. So for now, the debate continues.