Dress code for parents: How incongruous!

2016-09-27 01:01:13


t seems Principals of some public and private schools are enforcing morality as over zealously as Mullahs in Tehran. A few elite schools have been enforcing a strict dress code on mothers, who drop off their children at schools. On one instance, a notice had been pasted at the entrance of a private school dictating as to which attires that parents could wear when coming to school to pick up their kids.   
Sarees and loose garments are permitted; skirts and sleeveless tops are not. Parents who failed to comply have been turned away in the past. This is utter bunkum. The Education Minister finally called it bluff. Issuing a circular, he instructed (Quite rightly) that schools could not decide what parents should wear. The logic is simple, parents are legal adults, no less legal citizens, than school authorities.   
Flaunting morality is an industry- size pastime in the countries of our region, and it is not unique to us. (In Africa, Governments which fail in basic civil duties such as vaccinating kids, are unholily bothered about ‘evils of homosexuality’)   
Thus school authorities who are otherwise sane and rational people might have been compelled to follow suit, failing that they could well have been castigated by the parents themselves for exposing their kids to too much flesh.   
But, the downside of that argument is that children will nonetheless be exposed to the same, when they step out of the school gate.   
Incongruous means to insulate kids from the real world, where they live, could well have unexpected sinister repercussions.   
Arab countries, that lock up their female folks in closed doors, and behind the all- encompassing Burkas, have created a pervasive sense of misogyny, and sexual frustration among their young men.   
For decades social scientists have argued that single –sex schools are reinforcing gender stereotypes and institutional sexism. Most of us who studied in boys boarding schools, could see, though grudgingly, an iota of truth there (Though at the same time, we could insist that those factors alone do not make a convincing case against single –sex schools)   
School authorities penchant to ‘parent’ parents of their students is neither new, nor unique to Colombo schools. Some schools in the provinces only let saree clad mothers into their premises.   
Those guidelines could well date back to the cultural awakening that predated our Independence.   
However, now in retrospect, one should be able to note that certain things that coincided with the early renaissance movement were not exactly rational, they were at times divisive, and of course out of touch, with a cosmopolitan nation that Sri Lanka is trying to become.   

And our schools cannot live in the past. They need to discard archaic regulations. However, it is not only those regulations that are out of date; our school syllabuses are not the most enlightening.   
Perhaps the Government should get practitioners from education success stories (such as Singapore), to revamp them. Teaching strategies for core subjects such as Mathematics, Science and English may not be the most effective.   
After studying English for 13 years, most students leave schools barely proficient in the language. That deficiency over the time results in social and income disparities multiplying, since English is a crucial source of upward mobility.   
Those are obviously far more acute problems that need to be fixed. Women exposing a bit of flesh is not.   
This however is a manifestation of a wider problem. Policy elites in our part of the world have a compulsive obsession to regulate other people’s lives.   


"It is not only those regulations that are out of date; our school syllabuses are not the most enlightening"

The Cultural Minister of the former regime once proposed to ban women wearing miniskirts, he later gave up when he realised the folly of his proposition.   
In some other places in Asia, authorities are getting busy enforcing morality and religiosity. In Indonesia, there is a renewed interest in making sure Muslim female students wear the religious garment, while in Malaysia, Police are raiding motels to catch adulterous couples. Those policies, wherever they are implemented are distractions from real social problems.   
The world has come a long way since the days, when those Puritanical Victorian values dictated public lives.   
We too as a country have moved along, even unbeknownst to us. Once in a while, those archaic regulations remind us how the past we left behind looked like. However, trying to shovel those leftovers of the past down our throats is also a problem that we encounter from time to time. Those regulations have to go for that they make the present uncomfortable and the future less promising.   
Insulate kids from the other gender, there is more likelihood, no matter how remote it is, that they end up being less tolerant of the other gender.   
Well intentioned measures to protect kids from outside evil do not need to be overprotective, and by extension, counter-productive.   
However, still children need to be protected from a host of evils, from rapists to drug peddlers; they also need to be motivated and guided to achieve their full potentials.   
School authorities should spend their time and energy in those areas, where assistance is most needed. They fail to do that in the best of their abilities, when they are busy with enforcing archaic laws.   

Follow RangaJayasuriya @RangaJayasuriya on Twitter   

  Comments - 4

  • ET Wednesday, 28 September 2016 05:23

    Mr. Ranga Jayasuriya, ask many prominent media personal and even budhist media personal wht they try so hard to get their chíldren to these schools? it is the decipline and sobering background. Ask many media personal why they tool their sons out of so called international schools? u need to watch their behaviour or visit a night clud to know their values. Parents have to be dressed decently to enter a schools which is a deciiplined place. Fathers are told to wear leather shoes and formal wear and mothers not to show cleavage ( please see the photo closely, it only forbids exposing the body unnecessarily) to keep the standard within school where students are taught to treat as a sacred place. Akila Viraj can bring up him children in an atmosphere where beach shorts are allowed for mums and dads, but not for our children. This government will loose thecelections due to actions of ministers like Akila who seems detache from moral threats which invade children.

    Reply : 18       15

    BandulaV Wednesday, 28 September 2016 15:57

    Yes, We have to protect our children!!, Sri Lanka has one of the highest sex searches in google. talking about moral values and religion. What a shame!!

    Reply : 3       13

    ashydull Wednesday, 28 September 2016 09:45

    Before school Principals enforce dress codes on female parents of children under their care, it would be better for them to immediately stop their very own teachers from indulging in private tuition, elsewhere, teaching the very children they are supposed to teach within the four walls of the classrooms in schools for which they are paid salaries.It is a very well known fact that teachers discriminate against children who opt to take private tuition from other teachers, and have formed a virtual Mafia when it comes to safeguarding their ulterior motives in earning an extra rupee.

    Reply : 6       10

    alric holmes Sunday, 2 October 2016 16:55

    Oh I wonder if they will prevent school children from visiting the Sigiriya Frescoes from now on?

    Reply : 0       5

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