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Schools seek to enforce modest dress code.

New Delhi Close on the heels of some British schools which have banned skirts over rising hemlines and introducing trousers, a school in Noida has ordered salwar-kameez (traditional wear) for senior classes.

Principal of Marigold Public School, Vikram Sharda, said it wasn't about a ban on skirts. "We have decided to change the uniform in our school from the next session. Girls from Class 9 onwards will need to wear salwar-kameez."

The school decision has caused much distress to students. "It is nothing but a move once again directed at the girls," said Sakshi, a Marigold student. "The authorities are not doing anything about the boys shorts. In their case it is considered a fashion, but for us it's banned."

"As long as we are doing well in studies, how we dress up should not be of concern. The change in uniform is an infringement upon our rights and I am surprised why even women teachers in our school are not protesting or taking our side. After all, how does the length of our skirt measure our morality?" she asked.

Although many schools face similar issues, they are skirting it for the time being and carrying a wait-and-watch policy.

A Delhi Public School (DPS) teacher, despite feeling strongly about the issue, pleaded for her name not to be mentioned. "I had spoken about the matter at a parents-teachers meeting only after having warned some girls for not following the uniform code. And the next day, I suffered harassment at the hands of some boys, not belonging to our school."

"Earlier, many times I suggested to parents to take a look at their children how they were wearing the uniform before heading for school. And would generally find a puzzled look on their faces. The problem was and remains that children are appropriately dressed for school. But they don't stay that way once out of sight of their parents," she revealed.

The girls change uniforms into miniskirts by folding skirts at the waist to show more of their legs. And even in half-sleeved shirts they tend to roll up their sleeves and make them short by the time they reach school. While women teachers felt such a dress code had become a distraction for both boys and male teachers, they were not keen on the drastic measure of a skirt ban, as it would only help make students rebellious.

Needs diplomacy

Anuradha Sharma, principal of Ryan International School, said: "Staff and students need to focus on education. And I feel it is better to reprimand students who come to school dressed indecently. We sometimes ask the girls to unroll their skirts at the waist or tell them to go home and change. But on the other hand, we also have boys wearing their trousers dangerously low, which are on the fringes of vulgarity. All this, needs to be tackled diplomatically and it is important to make students understand the logic behind dressing up decently."

Amitav, whose son is studying in a prestigious school in Gurgaon, said: "I had been admonishing my son to wear his pants decently in school and not display his underwear. Fed up, one day I decided to approach his principal. But to my shock, the lady principal said I was making an EoACAyissue' of it. She said, the school held a modern outlook and I need to change with the times."

Usha Rani, Principal, Laxman Public School, Delhi, believed that it was all a matter of mindset. At her school, the students' council enforces the rule. She does not think changing the uniform can be the solution.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 8, 2011
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