Imagine wearing the same kind of clothes day after day, year after year for many years yet finding it comfortingly acceptable? Would it be easier to have a 5 year-old or worse, a teenager, choose his/her clothes for school every day? What a riot of colours our plain classrooms would be if not for uniforms!
The story of our school uniform is no different from that of other schools. It was selected and designed 20 years ago and seemed to match all the requirements of that day and time. But over the years we found it was becoming outdated and we needed to consider changing it for various reasons.
The old design included the usual shirt, shorts or pants for boys and shirt and pinafore for girls with a tie which children seemed to find most inconvenient and unnecessary. Every now and then when I pulled up a student for not wearing a tie and had therefore broken the dress code, I was promptly told that the tie was not forgotten but was very much there in the school bag or in the pocket! This got me thinking as to whether we really needed a tie? Most schools do have ties but there are a few who have done away with them. Obviously it is most unsuited for the Indian climate and is being perpetuated only because of our colonial heritage. My teachers even countered me on this. “If we do away with the tie how will they learn how it has to be worn? They will not learn to dress for formal occasions and for the corporate world.” they said.
The fabric of our school uniform was an orthodox checks and its soft texture gave it a fall that was quite limp. Today there is a wide range of fabrics, colours and trendy designs available in the market. Our uniform seemed old fashioned and dowdy and desperately needed to be reinvented.
We wanted to use specific colours that could be identified with the school. These colours, we thought could be incorporated in the logo, uniform, learning spaces, etc., to create a brand for the school. The uniform is an important element of the branding strategy of the school. It expresses the values and culture of the school. Over a period of time it conveys certain mental pictures in the public mind about the school.
The author is the Director of A.V. Education Society, a reputed progressive thinking school in Bengaluru South. She is an educationist and has been associated with educational management, teacher training, school leadership, curriculum development for over 20 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.