School Uniform: Personal Experiences

Figure 1.--.

A Japanese aid worker in the Philippines, Hiro Kawashima, asks the question, "Is school uniform necessary? He comments on his school in the Philippines as well as his own experiences in Japan. In Japan, apparently student leaders helped enforce the uniform regulations.

Necesity of School Uniform

Every year June is the beginning of the school year and yes, of course all of us, staffs are quite excited to see again our scholars and the new comers. But I have to begin again worrying about all the expenses for running the program. It's sad to say but true that in both June and December I always feel quite droopy and often feel jealous to see the children who are living with full of joy. For me June is for supplying "damn uniform stuff" and December for "damn gifts"! I tell you the truth. I really hate uniform and this is the story how I developed my hatred for it.

Experiences in Japan

When I entered the junior high school (in Japan Junior high school is the secondary education with 3 years and compulsory), I was just 12 years old but already had more than 5 feet tall. But you can't imagine that I only weighted 36 kg or 80lb. Although I gained another 15kg or 30lb during the school days I found myself still very thin at the graduation ceremony. (Well, my height was then 5'7''). I was ever thin and had small waist that I never found the best-fit-pants for my uniform. I believed I couldn't make myself cool and win the attention of the girls because my pants always would follow the gravity and my not-so-long legs looked even shorter. I always had to pull my pants up to the comfortable position. Since then I started to hate the uniform. But there's another reason. During the junior high school days I was always chosen as the class officer or even once as the chairman of the so-called Discipline Committee of the students'organization. I was expected to be the exemplar and censor if the students wore the uniform properly and was doing well. But I couldn't stand to scrutinize my friends at the school gate every morning and became sick of exercising such police-like authority.

Experiences in the Philippines

It was not until I came here [to the Philippines] and got bothered with supplying the uniform to the children that the memory of uniform was forgotten. Now and here again I have to tackle with this damn stuff. It's maybe true that wearing the same uniform will develop the healthy identity or unity among the members but it shall not disturb the poor economy of the parents. Uniform might even curb the schooling rate if it's forced. In some African countries uniform is abolished in the public schools and they found it effective to improve the attendance rate of schools or literacy because the majority of the population suffers from poverty and cannot afford to buy uniform. I suppose the Philippines too need this kind of drastic reform. Even in Japan uniform in the public school is not for the identity's sake but for keeping the students from being spoiled with running after fancy clothes. I will remind you that the Constitution of the Philippines sings a free education in the public school. I want to arouse the question: "Is school uniform necessary?"

Christopher Wagner

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Created: January 23, 2002
Last updated: January 23, 2002