Are Uniforms Really Necessary?

Every student has to go through the trouble of wearing a uniform at least once in their lifetime. I was a victim too. I hated those ill-fitting outfits on me. It was a major hindrance to me flaunting my beauty and showing off my taste in fashion. But the hatred did not last long.

On a summer day, when we had an extra class, I understood the importance of uniforms. Since the weather was a little too hot, the Collector passed an order asking students to wear comfortable clothing throughout the summer. The news sparked joy in the beginning. But as time passed by, the number of clothes I had decreased and the number of used clothes piled up in my room. It was a mess, and soon I got tired. Only then did I understand the value of uniforms. Ever since that summer, I haven’t stopped loving my uniform. It was a blessing in disguise.

The two common questions one encounters during their life as a student is – who invented exams? And, who invented uniforms? Now, to answer the latter question we have to travel a long way back. Many centuries ago, students used to wear a robe-like attire called ‘cappa clausa’. The origin of uniforms is believed to be from the United Kingdom around the 16th century. The advent of uniforms in Government schools of Kerala is hard to trace. It is assumed that the trend began in the ‘90s. The main motive behind the introduction of uniforms was to bring a sense of unity among students.

School and colleges are not a society but a community, where students from different cultural and economic backgrounds come together with the common intention of seeking knowledge. Wisdom and knowledge are known for their unbiased nature. It is the same for all and does not change with race, class, or gender. A student seeking knowledge should be equally unbigoted as well. A uniform serves the purpose of bringing this sense of oneness within the minds of students. But the pros don’t end here. It reduces the expense of buying a lot of clothes. It gives him/her the identity of a student which is essential to give them certain rights. If regular clothing were to be worn to classes, some might wear elegant and opulent clothes while others might not be able to afford good ones and be ashamed to show up due to the lack of “good clothes”. This disparity not only creates a division among students but also instils a feeling of inferiority complex among the minds of the less fortunate. Uniform not only creates unification of students from different societal and economic backgrounds but also achieves a feeling of belongingness.

However, many scholars believe that uniforms suppress individuality. This is the biggest drawback of a uniform. It destroys the uniqueness of an individual. These days uniforms have become a status symbol. One is being judged by the uniform he or she wears, for it defines the class and standard of the institution they are enrolled in. Students are being forced to follow a strict dress code. They are not given the right to choose their own hairstyle, and even their footwear is decided by the institution. These practices clearly violate some of their rights. Our Constitution has given us the right to choose our representatives, then why are we not given a say on what outfit to wear? This was one of the many questions put forth by my classmates when I discussed the topic among them. This question should clearly not be ignored. 

In conclusion, it looks like the pros of having uniforms outweigh the cons. A middle ground could be the institution giving students the freedom to style their uniforms the way they want, but then that’s a whole different Pandora’s box. Students must also have the freedom to express their religious customs. And the uniforms should be comfortable and suitable for the climatic conditions of Kerala.

This debate brings another question to light – If the purpose of uniforms is to assure unity among students, then why create a barrier in the name of gender? The Valayanchirangara School, a primary education Center in Ernakulam, has already made their uniforms unisexual. But we still have a long way to go.

What do you think? Are uniforms necessary? Tell us in the comments section below.

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