South African School Uniform

South Africa school uniforms were stringly influenced by British school uniforms. Thi was true throughtout the 20th centyry, but epecially the case after world War I when public schools became more establoshed and modern uniform styles became widely adopted. The school uniform garments worn by South African boys are quite similar to traditional English school uniforms. Some of the private schools still wear quite traditional uniforms. Some South African schools have continued to wear styles that English schools have discarded. The differences are the commom use of khaki shorts and kneesocks in South Africa and the tendency of many primary school children to go barefoot. Schools had a range of special days. First day was paricularly important for children just beginning school. South African parents like parents in other countries often take photographs on their children's first day of school. We do not know of any special ceremony or practice at school associated with the beginning of school in South Adrica. Most South African school traditions are based on British schools. We note that some South African school children wear seasonal uniforms. We do not know how common this is. We note some schools with grey cotton shirts and shorts like the summer uniforms worn in New Zealand. Here we note this uniform being worn at prep schools, we o not known if it is worn at the secondary level or public (state) schools. Unlike New Zealand we note boys wearing the uniform with kneesockds and shoes rather than Roman sandals. South African school uniforms were primarily based on English styles. Until relatively recently the English had very formal uniform styles. The uniforms were also relatibely heavy, designed primarily for the cold, wet English climate. These same styles were widely adopted in British colonies, even though the climate was much milder in these colonies than in England itself. Only gradually did lighter more informal styles become accepted in the colonies like South Africa where the climate really demanded different styles. South African boys and girls wear distinctive school uniforms. The notice a range of styles, uniforms based on English school styles as a result of the colonial association. These English styles continuee to be widely worn. Boys commonly wear collared shirts and short pants. The girls' outfits are some what more varies. We see girl wearing three different uniforms: gym frocks, blouses and skirts, and summer frocks. All three were commonly worn. While the girls' uniforms were distinct from the boys, there were many common items, including blazers, ties, sweaters, and knee socks.

Types

South African schools has different types of uniforms. This varies somewhat depending on the type of school. State primary schools have vary basic uniforms and thus haave fewer different types if unforms. This is especially true of the state schools with largely black children in low income communities. This varies somewaht from school to school. Private schools and secondary schools have more types of uniforms and generally stricter uniform standards. We see two types of standard uniforms, a standard uniform commonly with traditional Bristish uniform items like sweaters, grey shirts, short pants, and knee socks, often with ties. Than we see casual uniforms with polo shoets, shorts and often bare feet for the younger children. Some schools have formal uniforms with blazers and white shirts. There are also gym and sports unifoms. These are most common in private and secondary school. Actual styles have varied chronologically. The casual uniforms increasingly popular at primary schools are a relatively recent innovation.

Garments

The school uniform garments worn by South African boys are quite similar to traditional English school uniforms. Some of the private schools still wear quite traditional uniforms. Some South African schools have continued to wear styles that English schools have discarded. The differences are the commom use of khaki shorts and kneesocks in South Africa and the tendency of many primary school children to go barefoot.

Special Days

Schools had a range of special days. First day was paricularly important for children just beginning school. South African parents like parents in other countries often take photographs on their children's first day of school. We do not know of any special ceremony or practice at school associated with the beginning of school in South Adrica. Most South African school traditions are based on British schools. We do have some first day portraits which provide useful view of school uniforms and clothing over time. South African childen seem to begin school at about 6 years of age. There are special events during the year to celebrate various holidays, both seasonal and national. Many schools also have theor own traditiins which arevcelebrated each year. An imprtant event at the end of the year is prize giving. This is a special day devoted to awarding prizes to the students with important academic, sprts, and other schievements.


Figure 3.--These South African boys aew wearing kaqui shirts and shorts with blue jumpers and grey kneesocks. One boy wears a blue blazer rather than his jumper.

Seasonality

We note that some South African school children wear seasonal uniforms. We do not know how common this is. We note some schools with grey cotton shirts and shorts like the summer uniforms worn in New Zealand. Here we note this uniform being worn at prep schools, we do not known if it is worn at the secondary level or public (state) schools. Unlike New Zealand we note boys wearing the uniform with knee socks and shoes rather than Roman sandals. Many younger South African children attend school barefoot. This is not entirely an economic matter. Some schools encoyrage the younger children to attend school barefoot.

Conventions

South African school uniforms were primarily based on English styles. Until relatively recently the English had very formal uniform styles. The uniforms were also relatibely heavy, designed primarily for the cold, wet English climate. These same styles were widely adopted in British colonies, even though the climate was much milder in these colonies than in England itself. Only gradually did lighter more informal styles become accepted in the colonies like South Africa where the climate really demanded different styles.

Gender

South African boys and girls wear distinctive school uniforms. The notice a range of styles, uniforms based on English school styles as a result of the colonial association. These English styles continuee to be widely worn. Boys commonly wear collared shirts and short pants. The girl's' outfits are some what more varies. We see girl wearing three different uniforms: gym frocks, blouses and skirts, and summer frocks. All three were commonly worn. While the girls' uniforms were distinct from the boys, there were many common items, including blazers, ties, sweaters, and knee socks. Headwear was also destinctive, but no longer as common as it once was. Shoes are generally destinctive. The major difference between South African and Britain is that many South African children ca not afford a full school kit. Another difference is that many school children went barefoot. This is not entirely an economic matter. Many Afrikaaner children still go to school barefioot, both boys and girls.

Cadets

Several South African schools have military cadet training programs. HBC has, however, been able to find little information on the program.

School Rules

Schools have a range of rules concerning uniforms. The private schools have the most elaborate uniforms and rules which each school sets based on their own needs and requirements. State schools also have uniform. They tend to be more basic and inexpensive. The Ministry of Education (MOE) does not establish any specific uniforms, but does set guidelines for the state schools to follow. The MOE tells schools that, "School uniforms serve an important social purpose, and they should be retained in all public schools." Some of the more imoortant guidelines direct the schools to ensure that. The cost of the school uniform must not constitute an unaffordable financial burden on parents." Also the MOE wants the schools to choose uniforms that "allow pupils to participate in school activities with comfort, safety and decorum." The MOE also wants schools to take into account that "The range of school uniforms shall be geared to reflect a unique South African identity and to this end should include colours characteristic of Africa and also include items of clothing that are closely identified with Africa." We note the full text of the 2005 MOE directives concerning school uniforms.








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Created: 11:44 AM 7/5/2015
Last updated: 11:44 AM 7/5/2015