Thai students wearing school uniforms.
Olten, 3 February 2017. Hoodies, T-shirts, jeans, and a backpack. This is the image of university student that is easy to recall. However, there are students who go to school with white shirts, black pants, and skirts; they are university students in Thailand.
Whenever walking along the street in Thailand, you can often see university students wearing school uniforms. School uniform tends to display and show the characteristic of school, and vary from school to school. But it is not the case in Thailand. Only the necktie, badge and the mark engraved to the belt are different.
Southeast Asian nations, including Thailand, were under the Communist Party and now Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam which have remnants of socialism, are implementing a mandatory school uniform policy. North Korea is the only country that has the policy, aside from Southeast Asian nations. Among the nations pursuing democracy, Thai university students are the only students who wear school uniform obligatorily.
Thai people believe that everyone is all equal, when they wear uniform. They can get out of discrimination whenever they go to school, wearing school uniform, even though they wear luxury goods like Channel, Gucci, or drive an exorbitant car. However, at the same time, school uniform is ‘a symbol of fortune’.
In Thailand, ‘uniform’ reveals people’s identity and position. Most people who wear uniform have higher income and education level, and students’ school uniforms are no exception. For them, the uniform assures ‘equality’, as well as embracing the meaning of ‘ostentation’ simultaneously.
Thai culture which highly esteems manners and norms, is another reason that makes Thai university students wear school uniforms. In order to follow a number of norms and standards in the society in their future, they should first abide by a simple rule of wearing uniforms. Also, Thai people think that by wearing uniforms young people learn how to respect and appreciate others.
According to Thai Survey Research Organizations, 94% of students in Bangkok responded that school uniforms are necessary. Furthermore, 71% of them answered that they should wear uniforms on the day in the classes.
“I personally really like the uniform concept, because it makes all the students look equal” says Nuii Patrapan Sangsongsuk, an exchange student of FHNW, and continues “No matter how rich or poor background the student have, they all look somewhat the same in their school uniforms. Also, it’s a good system to prevent unnecessary fashion at schools, which could be a symbolic sign of unrespectfulness e.g. ripped jeans.”
However, not everyone agreed with it. In 2009 and 2013, Jjullarongkon and Tammassat university students stirred up a movement against school uniforms. They revolted against mandatory school uniform policy, saying that it infringed on autonomy and human rights, but eventually, it ended up in failure.
Author : Jooyeon Hong
Edited by: Inka Närhi