Despite a ministry decision in recent years that the blue collared shirt in elementary school uniforms was no longer to be required, the school uniform industry demanded that the standard stay in place, delaying the implementation of the new system until this fall. The Education Ministry says that it aims to ultimately abolish not just the blue shirt, but school uniforms entirely.
The ministry says that it is more appropriate for students to attend school dressed in everyday attire and has completed preparation of the regulations needed to effect a change in dress code policy. Education Minister Nimet Çubukçu ran an online poll over whether or not students should be able to dress as they please in schools, with support high for an abolishment of school uniforms. In the coming days Çubukçu is set to bring up the issue with the Cabinet; provided that all goes well, school uniforms will be a thing of the past by the fall.
The more things change, however, the more they stay the same. Along with the lifting of regulations over school uniforms will come a new set of rules in the format of a dress code policy that will set limits to students’ freedom in selecting their outfits. The ministry’s draft regulations include prohibitions on clothing that is transparent and too form-fitting, like tights. Students will also be forbidden to wear clothing that is sleeveless, collarless or featuring symbols, shapes or writing on it. Females will be allowed to wear pants, blouses and T-shirts, while male students will no longer have to wear ties and jackets to class.
Meanwhile, producers of school uniforms are not pleased at the prospects of a change in the regulations. Industry administrators have expressed displeasure over the changes, which they say will eliminate demand for blue blouses and uniforms, complaining to Minister Çubukçu and members of the Cabinet as well as taking out advertising space in newspapers to voice their discontent. Representatives of the industry assert that this change will leave thousands unemployed when the billion-lira industry just disappears. “The ministry hasn’t made any statement saying that the uniforms will be abolished, and we continued producing them. We have hundreds of thousands of uniforms in hand right now; if they don’t sell, we’ll go bankrupt,” they complain.
They also say that the abolishment of the school uniform will change the atmosphere at schools, emphasizing distinctions between the affluent and the poor based on clothing and leading to a preoccupation with fashion instead of studies.