Thai students defy school dress code on the first day of the second semester

Students at several schools in Bangkok have purposely not worn the specified school uniforms today, the first day of the second semester, in a collective show of civil disobedience.

The defiance of school uniform regulations is in response to a campaign by the Bad Student group, who believe students should have the right to wear whatever they like, as a school uniform has nothing to do with education.

At Samsenwittayalai public school, one male student was seen wearing the orange and yellow outfit of the iconic duck mascot of the Ratsadon anti-establishment group over his uniform, while a female student wore multi-coloured headgear, the symbol of the LGBT movement. The majority of the students, however, wore their uniforms. One Mathayom 5 student said that the uniform means extra expense for parents, while students already have casual clothes and should be able to wear them to school. Another said that all students carry ID cards, to prove who they are, so there is no need for uniforms.

Boonyapong Pothiwatthanat, the school director, said this morning that the school was unprepared for this situation, so they allowed all students to enter the compound.

He said, however, that the students must be reminded of the dress code, which is still enforceable, and that those who do not abide by it will be dealt with according to the regulations, but they will not be barred from attending class.

The Office of the Basic Education Commission earlier instructed all schools not to ban students from wearing casual clothes, but maintains that the school dress code still applies.

The Bad Student group said on its webpage today that it will compile a list of schools, which are forbidding students, who do not wear uniform, from entering the school and summoning parents to school to discuss the issue, and will denounce them on its webpage. The webpage has, as of 10.06am today, received 174 complaints from students at Saint Joseph’s Convent School, followed by 114 complaints from students at Sarawittayalai School and 65 from students at Si Racha School.

According to The Isaan Record webpage, students at Kaen Nakhon Wittayalai School, in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, who were not wearing uniforms, were separated in a conference hall and barred from attending the daily playing of the national anthem.

Education Minister Nuttapol Teepsuwan accused those behind the no-uniform campaign of being cruel and of manipulating students into conflict with their educational institutions.

He said that he has the responsibility for enforcing the regulations, adding that officials and schools are still in the process of working out an appropriate solution to the school uniform issue.

The minister noted that there may be problems if students nationwide are allowed to wear casual outfits every day, but hinted that it may be possible to allow students to wear casual dress once a month, while claiming that over half of the students and parents are happy with school uniforms.



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