A dress code for schoolchildren

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
April 17, 2000

Education Minister Dr Dale Bisnauth last week said that the ministry will get tough on indiscipline in the school and said that the ministry will issue a certain dress code and code of conduct which students will have to adhere to. This week we asked the citizens-in-the-street what they felt the school's code of conduct and code of dress should contain?

Angel Brummel - secondary student: 'I think the problem of poor discipline in the schools should not be blamed on children but should be seen as being contributed to by some teachers and some parents too. Some parents fail in their duty at home and many teachers arrive late for classes at school or are absent from some classes and children are left untutored. Whatever the school rules are they should be obeyed. But the ministry in looking at a school code has to take in the fact that students are now gambling in the schools, drinking alcoholic beverages, fighting, using obscene language, getting involved in sexual activities in the schools and disrespect for teachers. These are things the ministry must not ignore. For bad behaviour the ministry should ensure that schools set up disciplinary committees with representatives from the teaching staff, the parent body and the student body. For serious offences committed in the school the student should first be warned and the parent called in, the second time suspended and the third time expelled.'

Latifan Ali - housewife: 'I think that there is plenty discrimination in the system and this has led to some amount of indiscipline we are now seeing in the schools. As such I would like to see more standardisation and uniformity in the schools. For instance all students should wear inexpensive shoes to school. The brand names should not be allowed because this causes all kinds of problems. There is so much poverty around and some people do not even get proper food much less buy expensive shoes. Uniform must be uniform and the rules of the school have to be enforced.'

Lloyd Solomon - overseas-based Guyanese: 'I think it is a very good idea to tighten the school rules. But before enforcing certain rules the ministry should see what schools have in place and see how they vary. The ministry could then combine them and come up with standard policy that is enforceable across the board in all schools. This will help a child when transferred to another school. Then that child will not say that he or she did not know the rules because of the standard policy.'

Premnarine Jaddu - secondary school student: 'In terms of a dress code I think that the girls should go back to wearing pony tails and plaits and their dress hems should be at knee length. Students should be made to wear sensible flat shoes and should not wear expensive track boots. They should be standard in colour as well. Boys also like wearing colour jerseys under their shirts. This should not be the case, They should either wear a plain white T-shirt or plain jerseys. Students found with knives and weapons should be warned and if they fail to obey, harsher punishment such as suspension from classes should be enforced. The fads among boys are earrings, tatoos, drinking, gambling and they are fussy about the pants and shoes they wear. The material, colour of pants and style for boys should be standard as some like to wear them big and baggy, and they also insist on having their pants made of a certain material. If the school commissions tailors or dressmakers to make standard uniforms that should help to maintain uniformity.'

Keith Caesar - self-employed: 'The change for the worse in the schools did not happen overnight. It was gradual so I really cannot see any significant change for the better in the near future. Yes a standard dress and conduct code is required across the board so that no one would be exempted. Then the teachers would be in a position to discipline students without fear of reprisal from parents who are either `Mr This' or `Mrs That. In the same way there is a standard syllabus there has to be a standard dress code for public schools as well as private schools. Some of the private schools are setting standards which some parents normally in the public schools would not want to comply with but if the private schools say it is so then it is so. What should the code contain? That would be a bit difficult to say because I believe all schools do have rules and regulations which spell out the accepted behaviour and dress. What I do think is that the rules and regulations are not enforced.'

Oral Reid - private sector employee: 'Standards in behaviour and dress of students have definitely fallen and the Ministry of Education has to get tough on these issues. I would recommend that males in all secondary schools wear short pants until they reach fourth form after which they will wear long pants. Skirts should be worn at knee length. All students should wear either black or brown shoes. In my days at school a student would be afraid to use abusive or indecent language. This is not the case these days and students are abusive to teachers as well. The ministry needs to bring back the days when inspectors made periodic checks at schools. A child during school hours should not be on the streets unless authorised by the school. Incentives, too, could be given for improved students behaviour. In some instances, too, parents should be disciplined especially for giving students their own way.'

Susan Nobrega - secondary student: 'In looking at a school's code of conduct the Ministry has to find ways of dealing with students who these days want to wear elaborate hairstyles, wear lipstick, lip-liner, mascara, cutex, either long nails or false nails, expensive jewellery, anklets and toe rings, and colourful clips in the hair. Some girls pierce their ears in many places and insist on wearing as many pieces of earrings as the number of places where the ear is pierced. I think that this results in boys not respecting some girls and advantage could be taken because the girls are not experienced in the ways and wiles of the world. In addition when a student is expelled from a school, especially for bad behaviour the school should insist that the student does not gain admission to the school's premises because there have been instances where expelled students have returned and beaten other students who either reported their bad behaviour or were involved in their expulsion in one way or the other.'

Charla Carroll - secondary school student: 'My first recommendation is that regardless of which school a child goes to black shoes and white socks should be the standard colour. Girls school uniforms should be either knee length or below the knees and even if they prefer to wear it to the ankles that would be even better. As for the boys they should wear no big pants or big crotch pants, no earrings and if it is traditional that they wear long hair then it should be pulled back in a neat bun or pony tail. I do not think that only children should be blamed for all the ills that happen in the schools. Some male teachers encourage relationships with girl students as well and this leads to `eye pass' from both male and female students. Male students especially would say if the male teachers are doing it why not me?'

Marlyn Carroll - housewife: 'The schools' code of conduct and dress code should apply to both teachers and students. Some teachers I think are too friendly and familiar with students and this causes students to lose respect for them. And while recommending uniforms for students I will also say that teachers should also be uniformed with the females wearing either pants suits or dress suits. In the same way girl students' uniforms must not be tight teachers too should not wear mini skirts and tight skirts or blouses to school. Any code the ministry wants to send out to schools must go out with the support of the wider community. Some parents do not tell their children anything in the way of correction so some students do not know what is right from what is wrong. Some parents do not check their children's school bags so it becomes necessary for the schools to do so. No child should be running around the place during school hours in or out of school uniform.'

Dennis Sattaur - self-employed: 'Students should wear footwear appropriate for school. They should not be heeled shoes as some want to wear, nor should they be fancy with all kinds of colours. This should apply for both boys and girls. In addition school children should be reminded that they are not going to school to call attention to themselves but that they are going to school to learn. Once all the students wear clothing of the same type they will not be looking at one another to see who is better or worse. The ministry needs to re-introduce its welfare workers back into the school system and to work along with the police and conduct regular visits to places like the nintendo clubs.'