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A Uniformed Presence

Should schools still impose uniform on students? Earlier this week, pictures of students at Bangkok Christian College wearing their choices of attire to school were widely spread online. Kudos to the school for trying out a new approach to encourage student creativity and self-expression. Special shout out to the boy who wore Rillakuma onesie and the other one with a turban.

These pictures, again, sparked the age-old question of educational institutes in Thailand imposing uniform on their students. Is it for their own good or is it a restriction of their personal freedom and self-expression? After hours of delving into the comment section, I would like to summarise the debate and offer you my opinion.

It's a form of equaliser, putting every student on the same level.

It doesn't work like that. I went to Thai schools all my young life. Kids express themselves in certain ways through their choices of stationery, watches, mobile phones and so on. If they want to humble-brag or openly brag, they can still do so with or without uniforms.

It makes them less distracted and more focused on learning -- which is the very reason why they're in schools to begin with.

How come Thai students have scored alarmingly low on an average in different local and international tests in recent years despite wearing uniforms?

It instils a sense of pride in their institution.

Could this possibly backfire? Have you ever heard of fights between Matayom or vocational kids?

It saves the parents some money.

Not true for every family. Many parents go to pawnshops for money to pay for costs related to their children's education before every semester starts. Also, what's more economical between allowing kids to wear the same outfits in their daily life and to school and buying several sets of uniforms only for school? You don't even have to do the math here.

Uniforms lead to more disciplined people.

5555. Have you seen how Thais drive? What about the cutting-in-line aunties? Motorcyclists on sidewalk? Lawbreaking men in uniforms? I rest my case.

Happy Middle Way

Let kids dress themselves under a rough guideline. It's an opportunity for them to exercise their discretion and learn their priorities. Some may want to show off a bit when they are allowed to dress freely at first but they may later on stick to function and comfort. If some want to be a bit fashionable everyday, what's wrong with that? Certainly I'm not asking schools to allow the students to dress like Fame-Monster era Lady Gaga or in cosplay and they should abide by a general guideline.

If students don't dress the same and some appear richer or poorer through their choice of fashion, so what? It's another teaching moment for schools -- to treat everyone equally with respect and decency despite social standing or preconceived notions based on appearance. Something Thai society needs more of. 

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