School Uniforms Promote Equality, Discipline

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Studies show school uniforms promote equality and discipline according to teachers, principals

Students in public and private schools in Asian countries are often required to wear uniforms. Doing so fosters discipline, obedience, and respect for rules and hierarchies that contribute to a safe and orderly learning environment.

However, depending on who you ask, it is difficult to ascertain its advantages or disadvantages because the studies available are limited, and those that give it clear credence are primarily anecdotal.

School uniforms impose discipline

Schools in Asia and the USA have contrasting views on student uniforms. Yet, Asians continue to excel, consistently top SAT scores, and are now the highest income and most educated above other ethnicities.

One reason is that Asians are generally more disciplined than other racial groups, with the lowest rates of suspensions and expulsions. Perseverance, submission to authority, and, yes, school uniforms all form part of a culture of discipline in many Asian schools.

Asians are more disciplined than other racial groups.

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School uniforms work—depending on who you ask

If you ask students if they prefer to wear school uniforms, they will likely be averse to the idea. Teachers and principals, on the other hand, will be in favor of it.

Malaysian studies show school uniforms are effective

A 2020 Malaysian study surveyed students and teachers on their perception of mandatory school uniforms. Similar to a 2021 U.S. study, students did not see the importance of uniforms.

However, teachers agree that wearing school uniforms in Malaysia has the following positive effects.

  • Encouraged inequality in terms of socioeconomic status.
  • Limited discrimination and bullying related to socioeconomic status.
  • Uniforms are essential to safety and security.
  • It helps control and manage students.
  • Those in more prestigious schools had a stronger sense of belongingness.

A recent survey of secondary school principals found that 70 percent believe that mandated uniforms would reduce discipline problems. [ERIC]

Potential benefits attributed to school uniforms include improved discipline, increased respect for teachers, increased school attendance, fewer distractions, improved academic performance, increased self-esteem and confidence, lower overall clothing costs, promotion of group spirit, reduction in social stratification and fashion statements,
improved classroom behavior, lower rates of school crime and violence, and easy identification of non-students.
[ERIC, Brown Page 6]

U.K. survey shows school uniforms are practical.

In 2007, an Oxford Brook University survey of students 13 to 17 years old in the U.K. indicated that school uniforms help them feel happier and more confident. A decade later, a similar study showed little had changed. [I.E.] [S.A.]

  • 9/10 of teachers believe school uniforms help to reduce bullying.
  • 3/4 of mothers say school uniforms make their lives easier.
  • 2/3 of parents believe wearing school uniforms puts everyone on a level playing field.
  • 7/10 children believe wearing a school uniform helps them to fit in.

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Conflicting Studies: USA study show school uniforms are not critical.

According to a 2021 study. “We didn’t see much difference in our behavior measures, regardless of whether the schools had a uniform policy or not,” said Professor Arya Ansari, lead author of the research at The Ohio State University.

Also, those who wore uniforms felt less connected to school. “Fashion is one way that students express themselves, which may be an important part of the school experience,” Ansari said. 

What is the difference between the U.K. and Malaysian studies?

The 2021 USA survey examined elementary-aged students, whereas the Malaysian and U.K. surveys found favor in parents, teachers, and principals. Ergo, why should we listen to kids?

The bottom line is that wearing a uniform is critical in education, and the absence of it in American public schools is one clear reason kids today are more disrespectful of authority.

Sports, the military, and even prisons require uniforms, not because they look good but because they help enforce order and discipline

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