Dress codes in School

Dress codes in School

School uniforms have proven to have benefits to the students. It prevents the hassle of deciding what to wear each morning, eradicates bullying based on outfits, reduces the stark difference in class, promotes school spirit, etc. But has the purpose of uniforms been twisted in modern times?

Many schools these days seem to care more about the students’ dress codes than required. I remember many times in middle school when I was publicly pulled out of assembly and threatened to be sent home because my hair was in one ponytail instead of two, or when I was missing a ribbon. Schools are really strict when it comes to these trivial issues, so much so that they have actually sent students home for having a slightly incorrect uniform. While I understand that maintaining discipline in schools is important and uniform also comes under that umbrella, schools should also be aware of the kind of message they are sending their students. I’m sure my school thought they were telling me to be careful about my appearance and stay neat and tidy while they threatened to send me home for a missing ribbon; but what I actually heard was “your one ribbon can ruin an entire school day because we care about your uniform more than your education”. I’m pretty sure this was not the intended message, but when I think back to those days, I am sure that I was not alone in feeling that. My friends used to be deathly afraid of the principal, not because he would reprimand them for their discipline or grades, but because he would yell at them and humiliate them for their uniform. Even back then, I knew that is not the kind of impression an educational professional should be leaving on their students. Students should not be afraid that their teacher might embarrass them in front of their peers for having their uniform slightly out of order. In fact, students should not be afraid that their teacher will embarrass them at all.

This is not an isolated issue either, instead, it is a part of a much larger problem. The way I see it, schools these days are excessively strict in disciplinary issues than academic. Teachers are more bothered by how long students’ nails are than how good their grades are. While issues like this should not be trivialized by any chance, is it really more important than a students’ education? Is a slight incorrect uniform really worth telling the students that they cannot study at all that day? Is that the message educational institutes want to put out there?

Priorities of schools do not seem to be in order. If schools start punishing students by suspension for having a slightly incorrect uniform, then these are the values children will grow up with. They will start believing that their education is expendable. This is especially true for girls. Girls who are punished for having a skirt that's half an inch shorter than the requirement, girls who are accused of ‘showing too much skin’ when all they’ve done is wear what wouldn't raise any eyebrows if worn by boys. Will the school take responsibility if a girl grows up believing that how short her skirt is more important than how educated she is? 

While it is the responsibility of schools to turn students into well-rounded individuals and uniforms are somewhat a part of that, I don't think that unless a student has violated major dress code by going out of their way to disobey school rules or it’s a matter of repeated personal hygiene, the school should not interfere in how a student presents themselves.  They can discipline a student if they wear an entirely differently colored shirt than the uniform, but they shouldn’t make it a big deal if a student accidentally forgets to cut their hair and promises to cut it during the weekend. And even if the student has violated the major dress code, schools should be mindful of what action they take. The punishment should never make students feel like their appearance is in any way of more priority than their education. While a school has many responsibilities to fulfill, it should not be at the expense of their main responsibility, which is educating its students.

Written by: Saisha Dixit (Canopy Nepal)

Edited by: Sabanam Thapa (Canopy Nepal)

Canopy Nepal is a team of visionary youths working in the field of education, skill and leadership development, diversity and inclusion. We seek to improve the quality and efficiency of education by focusing on the learners and reshaping the way they learn.



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