Whether students loved them or hated them while growing up, school uniforms have always been an important part of their school curriculum. Uniforms are a way to create a sense of being a part of the same community and to display the pride of education. It helps develop a sense of unity and loyalty among the children studying in a school.
There are people who support the fact that uniforms must be made mandatory in schools as it helps eliminate social differences that get created due to the difference in the prices of the clothes the children wear. Those who are against this practice, consider this as additional costs on parents and a practice that suppresses the individuality of students.
Although uniforms develop a sense of unity among students, their styles are definitely not uniform across the globe. They are so different that it's fascinating to see how the culture of a country influences such trends. Some countries such as the US, Australia, India, etc. allow their schools to pick up any style and color for their uniforms while some other countries like Vietnam and Bhutan insist upon uniforms that are based on their traditional clothing styles.
Check out the school uniforms of these 15 countries around the world.
15 Japan - The Manga Fashionistas
Japanese school uniforms were introduced in the late 19th century. There is no difference in the school uniforms of public and private schools. The uniform is known as “Seifuku” in Japanese. It is quite renowned all around the world as it is highly popular in anime cartoons and makes its presence in manga comic books. For boys, the uniform is military style in both junior and senior high-school. This was actually inspired by the meiji era military dress. However, considering today’s fashionista students, schools have decided to opt for the western style uniforms.
Boys usually wear a white shirt, tie and tailored trousers as uniform while the girls wear white blouse with pleated skirts. The blouse has sailor style collar. To further enhance the fashion look of the uniform, girls try to wear shorter skirts and team them with knee-length stockings. Students have to wear navy-blue socks with black shoes, as part of their uniform.
14 Vietnam - The Graceful Angels
The white áo dài is the traditional uniform for Vietnamese girls, especially in the higher classes. Though worn daily in the Mekong Delta, the schools in northern Vietnam reserve this for ceremonies.
Public schools in Vietnam insist on the same type of uniform for both boys and girls. The shirt is usually a white one with the school logo stitched on the left sleeve. Navy blue or black trousers are paired with these. A red scarf is compulsory for the students from 3rd grade until the 9th grade.
Private schools have fancier uniforms with ties, vests or blazers. Uniforms are different for the girls as some schools insist on skirts for them. Vietnamese students have the freedom of wearing any kind of shoes except flip-flops, slippers and high heels. Dyed hair, makeup, and nail polish are strictly banned in schools.
13 Bhutan - National Pride
In Bhutan, the students wear their national costume as their uniform. This is very interesting. For boys, it is a long robe (knee-length), also known as a “gho”, which is tied with a belt. The robe is tied in a manner that it forms a big pocket in front. The pocket is big enough to keep books, notebooks and other school supplies in it. However, keeping books in gho pockets was an ancient trend. Now, the students carry bags or backpacks for the same.
Women are supposed to wear colorful blouses. A large piece of rectangular cloth, known as a “kira”, is folded around these blouses. They can wear a short silk jacket or a "toego" over the kira. The kira and gho can be in cotton or woolen fabric, depending on the season. They are patterned in simple checks and strips in earth tones.
12 England - All Prim And Proper
In Britain, the very first uniforms were long coat-like jackets in blue, generally referred to as “blue coats”. However, with the new reforms in the 19th century, schools adopted different norms of uniforms. Most of the schools decided to keep distinct uniforms for summer and winter.
As the far as uniform rules are considered, the dress code is very strict. The school management always looks for decent, yet classic, uniforms for their students. For primary school boys, there is a polo shirt teamed with shorts (for summers) or trousers (for winters). Similarly, for girls, it is a polo shirt with skirts (for summer) or trousers (for winters). In secondary schools, boys wear white shirts with either black or grey trousers and girls wear white shirts with skirts or trousers. The color of the skirts may be blue, maroon or grey.
11 South Korea - The Most Stylish
You know, South Korean uniforms are ones that everyone loves to wear. It is not only popular among boys and girls in school, but celebrities also love to flaunt it. The South Korean name for uniform is gyobok. Based on the western culture, the uniform here is shirt teamed with skirt or a trouser. Tie and blazers are also part of the uniforms. As the girls grow up, they tend to wear shorter skirts. So, most of the schools have decided to replace skirts with trousers.
Interestingly, celebrities targeting younger generation sell their products displaying ads of them wearing school uniforms. As students here study from morning till evening, schools and school uniforms are the background settings for their romance. Due to all this, school uniforms have become an expression of fashion among students.
10 Russia - Pinafore To The Front Lines
Russia has an interesting story with school uniforms. School dress code was officially canceled in the “90s. During Soviet Union era, from 1994-2013, school uniforms were not mandatory and students were allowed to wear anything they liked.
However, with the fall of the Soviet Union in 2013, it became mandatory for students to wear a uniform. Due to a no-uniform culture, there was widespread social inequality. People supported uniform law policy in order to encourage social equality and to put an end to the controversial discussion of whether school students are allowed to wear traditional religious clothing to school.
Now, each school can choose its own uniform. In schools where uniforms have not been introduced yet, there is an official dress code that includes wearing a white top and dark bottoms. The Russian traditional style seems to remain the favorite though.
9 Brazil - Loves Yellow And Green
Lucky or unlucky, but Brazilian students do not have any rules and restrictions on school uniforms. The government had issued some norms for uniforms, according to the state and city, but wearing them is not compulsory. As far as private schools are concerned, they can decide school uniforms based on their own wants.
As each individual school decides on the uniforms, some schools prefer elegant outfits while some others opt for a simpler one. There are some “intelligent uniforms” that are fitted with locator chips. These chips give information through computers, such as whether or not the students have reached the school. If they haven't, parents are automatically informed. This move is to curb absenteeism and class skipping.
8 Syria - Cool And Blue
Earlier, the Syrian school uniforms were of military/khaki shade. However, in 2003, due to some political reasons, this military shade, which indicated rigidity and strictness, was changed to brighter shades. Now the uniform colors consist of lighter tones of blue, grey and pink. This rule came into effect during 2003-2004 sessions. This move was mainly done to reflect that country is seriously trying to establish peace in the Middle East.
According to this, elementary female and male students will have unified blue uniforms and the intermediate students will have pink and blue uniforms. Secondary students will wear gray, blue and pink uniforms.
7 Australia - Hold On To Your Hats
There is much similarity in uniform trends of Great Britain and Australia. The major difference lies in the color of the uniform. As the Australian climate is hotter, the uniforms here are open and light. Australian schools have the freedom to decide their own norms in respect to their school uniforms. In general, boys wear button up shirts with shorts in the summer, and trousers in winter. Girls’ uniform consist of checkered or striped dresses that are worn on a blouse. In public schools, it is a dark-colored polo shirt for juniors and white for seniors, with a dark trouser or skirt.
As the Australian Climate is quite hot, students are allowed to wear hats as a part of their uniform. There is a special focus on fitness of students in the school and for this, most of the schools have physical education classes. Students have dedicated physical education uniforms for this. Also, the senior students of primary or secondary schools wear a jersey or a jacket to indicate that this is their final year there.
6 China - Activity Focused
Chinese uniforms seem to be much more practical than the Japanese ones. Though the Japanese uniforms do make imaginations run wild for many.
You will notice an interesting trend in the Chinese uniform. Generally, there are five sets of school uniforms. Among them, two are formal sets which the students wear either on special occasions or on some dedicated days. Formal uniforms are white collared shirts with a skirt (for girls) and trousers (for boys). The other three are everyday sets to be worn on normal weekdays. These are almost identical for boys and girls. It is a white collared shirt with trousers, paired with a sweater. This uniform looks more like a sportswear.
5 India - Unity In Diversity
Indian schools are quite particular regarding school uniforms. For both public and private schools, it is an important part of school curriculum. Boys have to wear a light-colored shirt with trousers, that can be blue, black or white. Girls wear a shirt and a skirt. Once the girls enter the secondary level, they are supposed to wear "salwar-kameez".
It’s not only the dress code that matters; most of the Indian schools require students to wear shoes, ties and ID cards. Students must come in clean and short hair that is neatly combed. Girls with long hair should tie them in braids. The Indian government does not prohibit anybody from practicing their religion, and thus Muslim girls are allowed to wear burkhas and Sikh boys can wear a turban as a part of the uniform.
4 Cuba - Strictly Followed
The school uniform norms in Cuba are quite strict. Any clothes that are disruptive to the educational process are not allowed. A student’s appearance should be compatible with decency, cleanliness, safety and an atmosphere of learning. The school uniforms are different for the different levels of education. Students from kindergarten are supposed to wear white tops, blue bottoms and blue scarfs. For primary school students, it is a white top, red bottoms, and red scarf. For secondary schools, it is a white top and yellow bottoms. The uniform consists of a polo shirt or button-up shirt with fitted pants and shoes. For girls, it is polo shirt or button-up shirt with skirts, which should be of appropriate length. No sandals and flip-flops are allowed.
3 Sri Lanka - White Is Their Favorite
In Sri Lanka, all government, semi-government and private schools have compulsory uniforms for students. In a semi-government or a government school, the uniform is quite simple and is a white, short-sleeved shirt teamed with navy blue shorts for boys. Girls wear a white dress with or without sleeves. The navy blue shorts of the boys are generally changed to white in higher classes or on special occasions in school.
Although a tie is also a part of the uniform, it is not mandatory to wear it. The dress should be woen with appropriate shoes and socks. With so much white in the uniform, don’t you wonder how hard their moms must be working to keep the uniform neat and clean?
The private schools make small changes in the uniform by changing the color to khaki, dark green or bright blue. There are blazers for special occasions, but those too are white in color.
2 Indonesia - Religiously Followed
Indonesian schools have an interesting pattern in their uniforms. As the students pass through every stage of education, their uniform color changes. For primary students, boys wear white shirts with short sleeves and red pants. Girls team this same shirt with long, red skirts. Now, when students are promoted to the lower secondary level, the trouser or skirt color changes to navy blue. For upper secondary students, the color is changed to a bluish grey. When upper secondary students pass their final exams, they celebrate by spraying or marking each other’s uniform with different colors.
Indonesian public schools allow students to follow their religious practices. Private schools decide their own uniforms. Schools have some set standards for cleanliness and grooming - male students are not allowed to have long hair while girls are allowed with simple accessories such as watches, earrings and bracelets. Black or white sneakers with white laces are the most common shoes in schools. A few higher-level students are required to wear black leather shoes.
1 Ghana - Stay Colorful
Ghana requires all of its students to wear uniforms and the school uniforms for all public schools are the same. There is a school emblem stitched on the left chest of the shirts in order to distinguish students of one school from another. The school management decides the uniform of students in private schools, though they generally incorporate the traditional colors of green and yellow.
Ghana is a low-income, high-poverty country. The cost of the uniform acts as a barrier for children to come to school. Therefore, in 2010, the government has initiated free school uniform distribution centers throughout the country. In one of the poverty-affected districts, namely Tarkwa Nsuaem, this initiative has distributed more than 8,000 school uniforms to needy students. Apart from this, there are public programs that help poor families buy school uniforms.
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