NDTV carried this news article recently
India is proud of its liberal education but Amity University is doing away with all that tradition and cracking down on students in a narrow minded interpretation of what’s right to wear.Amity is imposing a strict dress code on its college students ordering no jeans, no short sleeves.
In fact when NDTV asked students for their views on Monday, the Amity PRO first warned that action would be taken against any student who talks to NDTV.
The students want to know if you can’t wear jeans and T-shirts as a college student when can you. It’s being called the Talibanisation of Amity.
This didn’t surprise me. Amity seems like an institute desperate to project an image of serious, no-nonsense study to counter the image it has (and many other private colleges have) of being a good way to make quick bucks for its promoters. Making uniforms compulsory just is another way to achieve this.
I got thinking, however, on an issue closer home. The issue of uniforms at university is very different from that at school, and here I’d like to discuss it in the school context.
Just last month, I had led a debate in our School Improvement Workshop between members of staff on whether we should have uniforms or not. Most staff members were of the opinion that we should. Their arguments were as under:
1. Uniforms lead to, well, uniformity. Wearing the school uniform is like wearing an honour code that makes you aware of and respect the rules the school lays down.
2. There is less likely to be trouble when one wears the school uniform for that makes one easily identifiable. So the risk of fights while cycling back home, for example, can be reduced significantly with the introduction of the uniform.
We thought of some more together. My own submissions, for and against.
1. Uniforms cost money. At some government schools I know off students spend more on uniform then they spend of tuition the entire year! At our school, our tuition fee is approximately Rs.850 (USD 18) a month. Uniform (different for summer and winter) can cost upto Rs. 3000 (USD 66) for a one-time purchase, and kids are always growing out of and losing/tearing their uniforms. This money could easily be used to provide better educational inputs.
2. Uniforms are constant hand-me-downs and often many children, wearing old, worn out uniforms look very ‘un-uniform’ in comparison to others- and there is precious little the school can do to make the parents buy new sets.
3. Uniform, as pointed out earlier, IS uniform. Another example of school creating a divide between the real world and itself. I would like to know what research says about uniforms and such motif deadening creativity in students- I wouldn’t be surprised to find a positive correlation.
1. Research is showing that “What to Wear” can be a difficult and nerve-racking experience in the teenage years. Uniform takes the stress of this decision making away!
2. Uniforms weed out one very important display of wealth. When I was a schoolboy we were supplied uniforms tailored by the school and weren’t allowed a single item of clothing/accessories from home. This was regimented strongly, often with corporal punishment. While some of the checks may have been misguided, the premise of equality was sound.
The Staff Improvement Meeting finally decided that we would continue with uniforms. Sadly I think, because we were afraid to bite the bullet and open ourselves to criticism for parents who may not have understood our intentions, costing us students and revenue.
I thought that a simple uniform policy (and not uniforms) that mentioned what was permissible and what was not – with enough room for expression and creativity – would have worked just fine.
What do you think?