Shouldn’t Sri Lankan School Uniforms Be Changed

School Uniforms in a High School

School Uniforms in a High School

Common Sri Lankan girls' uniform.

Common Sri Lankan girls’ uniform.

There was much talk about a politician forcing a female teacher, a disciplinarian of the school, to kneel down before him for advising his daughter not to wear shorter uniforms to the school. That was the story the media provided us. There might be unheard incidents that were related to this story. You can have a look at to see an alternative perspective to the incident.

I highly condemn the politician’s reaction on the said issue but we have to take a closer look at it as to see what causes this type of things to arise in public schools.

Are we using the ideal path to discipline the school children? Most of the issues come when dealing with the teenagers. We hear stories of young girls committing suicide after teachers’ advising or punishments to them, boys attacking teachers or fellow students, teachers’ cutting the boys’ hair, girls’ frocks hems’ stiches being ripped, etc. are being done by the teachers and the school prefects. These measures may be taken by teachers as the last resort to the problem as some students don’t heed to kind advice but I am of the view that some of the rules and regulations should be relaxed a bit as the world has gone forward from the past and students are exposed to the existence of more lenient rules in other parts of the world.

Sri Lankan private schools provide more freedom to the students and I don’t know whether it has produced negative developments in relation to the discipline. Since we don’t have much access to private schools we can’t comment. But with such stronger disciplinary actions, what we hear from the media is that it is in the public schools that major disciplinary issues get reported.

Take our public school uniforms for an example. They are cool and look nice but how difficult it is to maintain these pure white uniforms? When I was a schoolboy many times I dreamt of having brown color uniforms so that we could easily play in the playground and travel by bicycle or bus. In most of the outstation areas, students travel to school on foot, by bicycles or by bus. How difficult it is for the schoolgirls to ride a bicycle with a frock that is long up to knee level? I find Muslim girls riding bicycles easily as they wear trousers for the lower part of the body. They wear salwars. Why don’t we change the girls’ uniforms to something more comfortable? Of course, I know that conservatives will come at me with clubs and all that but this is my view.

I spent a few days in a private school in Miami, Florida in the year 2,000 and the uniform of the school was very flexible for the students. (Most American schools don’t have uniforms at all.) The school, Miami Country Day School had two choices of the colors. One was red (for cooler season of the year) and the other was pure white (for the hotter season of the year) and the students were free to wear what is comfortable for them during any time of the year. Moreover, they could select between long trousers or shorts as they wish. I saw girls wearing shorts and T- shirts and putting their legs on their tables and nobody cared. When I asked about this one of the teachers what she told was that the teenagers are full of energy due to growth hormones and they shouldn’t be restricted unnecessarily so that their growth can be affected. Now, I am not suggesting that we should go that far, but more freedom should be introduced step by step for our students also.

I have seen the girls of Kekirwa Central College wearing lama saris to school and they look very nice but how uncomfortable for them to use them while traveling and doing sports? A change is not that difficult. Wickramasheela Maha Vidyalaya in Giriulla has a brownish uniform for the girls and once there had been some efforts to change it to white as in the other public schools but it had been the schoolboys who had protested and the authorities had to retain the brownish uniform. I am surprised at how this particular school had guts to design a color uniform for its students. Hope other schools also could follow suit.


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