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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stripped Naked

Just this Monday, June 1, 2008, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued a presidential proclamation instructing the Department of Education to order the compulsary use of school uniforms in public schools nationwide. Upon issuance of this proclamation, students from various public elementary and secondary schools will no longer be compelled to buy and wear school uniforms designed for their locality but can wear anything that is affordable to their budget. This means that children can simply go to school in their everyday clothes if that is what they can afford. The move was ordered after a serious of price increases of basic commodities such as rice, flour and heating oil and was made in order to alleviate the hardship of the masses due to these price increase.

The order by the president got a lot of mixed reactions both in favor and against. For my part, as a teacher, I totally disagree with the proclamation. Not that I am defending the sale of school uniforms in public schools or in other places, but such proclamation can cause a dilemma not only to the schools but to the students themselves. I have lined up my rationale for my disagree in the following numbers:

1. Security

Uniforms are designed and launched by various public schools to distinguish their students to those from other schools and from "outsiders". When we mean outsiders, we mean people who are not connected to the school whatsoever and has no business (especially sensible business) with the school. Outsiders are a common threat to the school's security, especially to the students, because these outsiders often prey on their enemies, who happen to be pupils in schools, outside of the school gates. If we allow students to wear the everyday clothes just as these outsiders, we might not be able to easily distinguish one from the other.

2. Economy

Uniforms as an uneconomical measure is actually a misconception. It can be budget saver in fact. While the president is thinking that low income families can save money by letting their children wear ordinary clothes for school, most low income families may not even have decent everyday clothes to wear for school. They will still have to buy decent looking ones in order to look presentable and clean. Most students think that it is more economical to use uniforms, especially if you purchase just a set or two since you'll be able to use both alternately during the entire week. With uniforms there is no need to purchase another change of clothing. The president is wrong in assuming that situation will be the same as that in the United States and Europe, but if you look at it closely, students from these parts of the world can wear civilian clothing to school since they have the money to buy a change of clothing at least every week.

3. Dignity

Uniforms restores a certain dignity to people from the grassroots. While they are usually associated with filth and unclean surroundings, poor people who go to school regains their dignity as their uniforms carry with it a certain pride and status. Furthermore, the school is place where hygiene, decency and cleanliness is instilled. To allow the students to wear inappropriate clothing will be contradicting this principle.

As a teacher, I am more concerned on the after effects this policy will have on my students. I don't want my students being laughed at if they go to school in slippers and everyday T-shirts and shorts. I do not want my students being tempted with the sight of short shorts and spaghetti stapped blouses. The policy in uniforms somehow is helpful in instilling good virtues and graces to students.

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