Students Welcome Relaxed Uniform Policy

Students Welcome Relaxed Uniform Policy

Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang

Schools in Taiwan are no longer allowed to punish students who choose not to wear uniforms, after the Ministry of Education (MoE) amended the country’s uniform policy.

Taipei First Girls Shorts Alliance, one of the many groups calling for a relaxation of uniform policies in recent years, welcomed the decision.

“Our voices were heard. It’s never easy, but we did it,” the group wrote on its online fan page. [Quote translated]

Another student group Free Your Uniform was similarly pleased, saying, “Everyone can now decide what they want to wear.” [Quote translated]

Under the new regulation, school officials cannot restrict students’ hair styles and no punishment should be applied to students regarding uniform. In addition to allowing different opinions and increasing liberty in educational environments, schools should hold public hearings about uniform policies and conduct surveys among their students.

“This is to protect students’ rights of self-determination in terms of body and personality development. It will also encourage them to manage themselves well," the MoE says in a statement. [Quote translated]

The Department of Student Affairs and Special Education of the MoE says that the uniform policy in Taiwan should take a step forward and become more democratic.

Student protests pay off

Traditional school uniforms - tight pants, straight shirts and skirts - are considered inconvenient and old-fashioned by many Taiwanese high school students. Skirts are criticized for objectifying girls.

Protests against uniform policies were sparked in 2010, after the Tainan Girls’ Senior High students protested against wearing skirts at school. During a school assembly, some female students took off their skirts and showed the shorts they were wearing underneath. Student groups promoting uniform liberation popped up across Taiwan. Organizations included Free Your Uniform, Taipei First Girls Shorts Alliance and Yellow Shirt Movement of Jingmei Girls High School.

On April 16, President Tsai Ing-wen attended a meeting with high school students. The leader of the Taipei First Girls Shorts Alliance asked Tsai of her opinion on the issue.

Tsai replied, “One of my campaign videos shows students replacing their skirts with shorts. As you can see, I totally support you.” [Quote translated]

Uniforms only a “minor matter”

While many students celebrated, some people appear skeptical about the new policy.

One person posts on on PTT, a Taiwanese online platform for social issue debates, criticizing the decision. He thinks students nowadays are too demanding and should focus more on their school work instead of, what he describes as, such minor matters.

There are also other perspectives. One person says that uniforms are intended to unite students and prevent discrimination against the poor, since one’s financial status won’t be shown by their clothes.

Edited by Edward White



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