School uniforms have long been a subject of heated debates. Despite the uniform’s aid in addressing specific issues related to inequality, bullying, and concentration on studies, various types of evidence prove that those positive effects may be diminished under certain circumstances. Moreover, numerous scholars and activists believe that mandatory school uniforms undermine students’ fundamental rights. A dedicated analysis is needed that takes into consideration school uniforms’ effect on academic performance, bullying, and freedoms.
One of the original motivations to introduce school uniforms was the determination to provide all children with a comfortable option for a reasonable price. Across the world, there are numerous regions where purchasing several sets of casual clothing may be considered a severe burden for a family’s budget. Uniform has always been believed to cement the gap between rich and the poor through the use of unified dress colour and styles (Kabia, Mwalw’a, & Machyo, 2020). Therefore, mandatory school uniforms help address the issue by reducing competition between classmates and encouraging the purchase of simple items, such as white polo shirts and dark trousers/skirts.
What is more critical, bullying rates have proven to fall sharply after the introduction of school uniforms. Adolescents are generally considered to be more aggressive and less compassionate, which often leads to mocking and humiliating peers that come from poorer families. Therefore, the reduction of visible poverty that was facilitated by mandatory school uniforms has allowed for a better environment. According to Ansari, Shepard, and Gottfried (2022), low-income students in schools that required school uniforms demonstrated better school attendance. Moreover, children and teenagers wearing the same clothes tend to understand the principles of meritocracy at a younger age, which is instrumental for the development of a prosperous, democratic society.
Mandatory school uniforms also allow for the creation of a highly efficient business-like environment in the classroom. Moreover, policies requiring students to wear uniforms tend to face fewer legal pitfalls than school dress codes (Underwood, 2018). The learning process has more chances to become the primary focus for every student, as uniforms help eliminate various distractions. Moreover, teachers and students tend to treat each other in a more respectful and pragmatic fashion. The abundance of closing choices has proven to be the cause of various prejudices at schools, as various options are associated with cultures, subcultures, religions.
At the same time, a different perception of uniforms has gained popularity in recent years. For instance, school uniform policies in low-income countries are believed to be often fraught with complications (Sabic-El-Rayess, Mansur, Batkhuyag, & Otgonlkhagva, 2019). Other arguments against mandatory school uniforms tend to center around the lack of influence on academic performance and the diminished degree of the ability to express oneself freely. According to Harber (2021), the benefits of school uniforms are often set out in relation to the lack of connection with academic or other achievements and the role in school exclusion and dropout. Moreover, many people believe that free dress should be protected in the same manner as freedom of speech.
There are various ways to approach the necessity to implement mandatory school uniforms. Emerging evidence suggests that there is no universal framework that can provide a single answer for every nation and every school. In fact, each case has numerous factors that can make specific arguments negligent when compared to others. Therefore, communities that do not feature extreme wealth inequality and where everyone can afford various casual outfits for their children should try abolishing mandatory school uniforms in order to improve the opportunities to express oneself and to promote diversity. In other cases, compulsory school uniforms continue facilitate both environment and learning process. Given the numerous benefits, I firmly believe that school uniforms should not be abolished in most regions across the world.
Ansari, A., Shepard, M., & Gottfried, M. A. (2022). School uniforms and student behavior: is there a link? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 58(1), 278–286.
Harber, C. (2021). Post-Covid schooling: Future alternatives to the global normal. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kabia, F., Mwalw’a, S., & Machyo, C. (2020). Mandatory School Uniform Policy and Students’ School Attendance in Langata Sub-County, Nairobi-Kenya. African Journal of Emerging Issues, 2(12), 18-39.
Sabic-El-Rayess, A., Mansur, N. N., Batkhuyag, B., & Otgonlkhagva, S. (2019). School uniform policy’s adverse impact on equity and access to schooling. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 50(8), 1122–1139.
Underwood, J. (2018). Under the Law: School uniforms, dress codes, and free expression: What’s the balance? Phi Delta Kappan, 99(6), 74–75.