School uniformSchool uniforms
are common in elementary and secondary schools
in many nations. The European nation that has the most widespread use of school uniforms is Britain
. The practice of prescribing clothing
has spread from there to many formerly British territories (including Ireland
, New Zealand
and South Africa
is another industrialised country where school uniforms are nearly universal. In most of continental Europe and Scandinavia
, school uniforms are however not common. Russia
abolished school uniforms in its public school system after the replacement of commmunist party government in the early 1990s.
In North America, i.e. the United States and Canada, school uniforms are generally not used in public (i.e. state-sponsored) schools. However, independent schools often have school uniforms. In the 1990s, there was a trend toward (re-)introducing uniforms in American public schools, and especially so in low-income areas. This was at first motivated by a need to counter "gang clothing", but has later also been seen as a way of improving morale and discipline. Those arguments are however controversial among many parents, and that fad seems to have peaked. The American kids who are most likely to wear a school uniform today are either very poor or very rich.
Proponents of uniforms argue:
- they reduce cliques (or gangs) and peer-envy based on clothes
- they allow the student to focus on schoolwork rather than on socialising
- they add a professional air to the school environment, resulting in better morale
Common arguments against school uniforms are:
- they violate the students' right to self-expression
- they are costly (this may or may not be true)
- "one-size-fits-all" style does not suit all students' body shapes
- they do not actually result in any scholastic improvement
- (specific to present-day America) use of public-school uniforms implies a failing school system and could even reduce property values.
Traditionally, school uniforms have been subdued and professional. Boys' uniforms often consist of dark pants and dress shirt, plus a jacket in cold weather. A girl's might consist of a skirt and blouse (The gender-specific uniforms have been another point of contention). The use of a blazer or suit-like jacket has come into favor in some areas. Some school uniforms proposed in US public schools have discarded the formal style and have opted for bright shirt and khaki pants, or shorts in the summer.