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Impact, shortcomings of school uniforms

In our globalised world, the definition of a school uniform goes beyond regional customs; it is a global phenomenon, with over 20 per cent of students world-wide wearing these standardised outfits. 

School uniforms have transcended borders and cultures, serving as a common thread in the education experience globally.

Critics argue that uniforms may stifle individuality and creativity, while others believe they foster a sense of belonging, create equality and improve discipline and focus.

Moreover, uniforms help reduce socio-economic inequalities resulting from alternative clothing.

Every student, regardless of background, stands on equal footing in their uniform.

Evidence shows these garments play a pivotal role in shaping a positive educational experience world-wide.

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This narrative takes a turn when considering countries like Germany, where school uniforms aren't common.

German students express their personality through clothing choices, encouraging a different approach to education and self-expression.

As we explore the impact of school uniforms, let us journey back in time to when uniforms held a significant subtle prowess.

Donning a school uniform was more than attire; it granted privileges and convenience, sparing wearers from laborious queues at post offices and bus stops.

Story

The story goes back to the colonial era when missionaries introduced school uniforms to the Gold Coast.

Missionary schools such as the Basel and Wesleyan missions, dating back to 1895, proudly introduced the uniform culture.

Ghana's schools have since embraced it.

Fast forward to 2019, the Ghana Education Service (GES) unveiled a fresh set of uniforms for Junior High School (JHS) students to bridge the transition to secondary school.

Primary students, however, continued with their existing uniforms (kokonte ne nkatinkwan) until completing primary education.

Journey

Reflecting on this journey, it is clear that school uniforms are more than attires; they unlock the potential of education.

During an exclusive interview, Michael Annang, the administrative director of Sterling International School in Accra, highlighted the psychological impact of school uniforms on students.

He emphasised that students who did not wear prescribed uniforms could face exclusion from school activities by their peers.

“Psychologically, students' concerns are a cause of anxiety for both parents and school administrators, because they wish to wear uniforms to avoid being excluded by their friends.

Their desire is rooted in a yearning for a sense of belonging”.

A student in Accra, Nana Kwame Owusu Frimpong, said, "I am consistently motivated to attend school."

Imperative

As Ghana's Educational Transformative Agenda gains momentum, cost and quality challenges must be addressed.

It is imperative for the government to ensure affordable uniforms for all public schools, aligning with the goal of revolutionising education by 2030.

Supporting this proposition, Jane Kesewah Ayeh, former Headmistress of Twimia Koase Methodist JHS, stressed the government should provide uniforms free or reduce costs for students.

Challenges also lie in the quality of the fabric.

Both mission and private schools face this issue, with mission schools considering government intervention and private schools seeking support from branding experts.

The CEO of Rissemma Company Limited, an outfit responsible for the production of over 500,000 yards of school uniforms for different institutions, Mr Joe Dzitse, proposes a solution to the cost and quality challenge, suggesting that school administrators turn to cotton-polyester fabrics for their uniforms.

“These fabrics, a perfect marriage of durability and comfort, promise to be a sound investment in the future of education”, the branding entrepreneur said.

The story of school uniforms is a captivating journey.

 They're more than attires; they're the key to unlocking the potential of education in Ghana.

The writer is with Sovereign Way Media-a media agency.

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