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EDITORIAL – Let’s keep school wear from the fete

marciadottin, [email protected]

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Minister of Education Ronald Jones is absolutely right. Our school uniforms ought not to be turning up at any fete – the raunchy event at that. School uniforms belong in class.The donning of the school uniform indicates that the pupil or student is going to take part in serious classes or instruction, just like dad or mum’s dressing for a full day’s work. It is taken that when a student dresses in “work” clothes rather than play clothes, he or she takes a more profound approach to study.More obviously, students in school uniform are pleasantly more striking, and the uniform ensures that children come to classes in appropriate clothing, avoiding the overly revealing and other outlandish fads and distractions. You don’t want the school corridors turned into catwalks promoting an unending fashion show.This we can see as distracting from learning, with some students spending more time on their styles of clothing than having any thirst for homework.And that is the point. School uniforms are not to be associated with the barely dressed, nor the wiggle and dip, nor the “go dung, go dung . . . doan stop dung dey” call and response. Certainly, we must get up and out of this disturbing craze of oversized adult “students” bursting from uniforms of all colour, class and creed, in deportment and posture that are unrelated to any classroom standard.There is a sacredness of a school’s colour-coded wear, its socks, its epaulettes, its tie – yes, its uniform! Past students and parents – and, worse of all, the promoters of these school class aberrations – are doing grave injustice to the image and integrity of the school uniform system. It is a sick joke gone too far.The uniform helps maintain school discipline by the conditioning of the mind to deep application of class work. Amidst the argument that today’s children are to an extent lacking in self-discipline, it cannot help that grown “hardback” people are playing the sensual and half-naked uniformed student. What kind of mirror image do we expect our pupils to have of themselves?The school uniform helps to underscore that individuality, and self-expression need not be determined by designer clothing or the latest fashion fad. As such, thrill-seeking parents and other adults must leave the school uniform alone and find their pleasures in some other form of costume – perhaps Bozo’s.The wearing of the school uniform helps build school spirit; it engenders lasting camaraderie; it instils a feeling of belonging – even in lasting memory. Ask any old Combermerian!There has been much negativity infiltrating our school culture in recent years, plucking at its very soul: illicit drug introduction, the sexual offence, cellphone abuse, and so on. We don’t need to prostitute its uniform now.As Minister Jones as suggested, more than ever we need to respect and secure the school uniform: that characteristic and tone of Barbadian school life.