Obligatory school uniforms abolished amid criticisms

Obligatory school uniforms abolished amid criticisms

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Obligatory school uniforms abolished amid criticisms

The amendments to dress codes will come into effect in the 2013-2014 school year. Transparent, too-tight or sleeveless clothing will be forbidden, as well as emblematic political symbols. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The Turkish Ministry of Education has abolished the nationwide monotype uniform requirement in schools and lifted the headscarf ban for religious imam-hatip schools yesterday, prompting fierce criticism from opposition parties, unions and educators.

Opponents claimed economic differences cause pedagogical traumas for children and permitting headscarves harms secular education.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan defended the move, saying education in uniform has drawn complaints for many years.

“Let them buy the clothes they wish as they can afford and dress up their children, these steps are taken upon request [from the nation],” Erdoğan said yesterday at a joint press conference in Madrid, Spain with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The amendments to dress codes published in the Official Gazette Nov. 27 will come into effect in the 2013-2014 school year. Students will be allowed to wear casual clothing meeting specific requirements. Transparent, too-tight or sleeveless clothing is forbidden in the new code, as well as any clothes or accessories bearing emblematic political symbols, shapes or writing.

Female students will not be allowed to wear mini or slit skirts or make-up. Students who wish to continue wearing their school uniforms will be allowed to do so.

Economic differences

Removing the school uniform requirement sparked fierce debate in the country immediately after the amendment announcement. Those who do not favor the idea have claimed that economic differences will cause pedagogical traumas.

The Education and Science Personnel Union (Eğitim-Sen) criticized the practice, claiming the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) “took another step to religion-based education.”

 “This practice may lead to religious expressionism with clothing and this will cause polarization among children, and girls will be forced to [dress in compliance with religious rules],” Eğitim-Sen wrote in a statement yesterday.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has also strongly criticized the amendment announcing that they “will take it to court.”

“The habit of children in rich families of purchasing luxuries will create a feeling of inferiority,” CHP Istanbul deputy Nur Serter said.

Ministry of Education Undersecretary Emin Zararsız said school registrations were made using an address-based population registration system, which makes children from families with similar budgets go to the same schools.

Headscarf debate

The regulation also lifted the headscarf ban for imam-hatip schools, while the ban will continue in other schools.

Only students in middle and high schools will be permitted to wear headscarves during elective courses on the Quran, according to the new regulations.

Ministry of Education Undersecretary Zararsız said the issue was speculated on and the amendment only allowed headscarves to be used in all classes in imam-hatip schools, unlike the old practice, which only allowed it in vocational classes.