The untold truth of school wear
Iréne-Mari van der Walt
School uniforms – bland, indifferent and at times uncomfortable. We all know why we loathe the school tie more than any other piece of clothing.
Many speech competitions have been inundated with learners questioning school uniform, but the answers to their questions remain unknown to most.
Hein Daiber, the principal of Private School Swakopmund (PSS), is a fan of the uniform. “I think, more than anything, it is tradition. It’s a badge of pride,” he says.
Daiber feels that it gives students a sense of belonging to their school and instils pride. It is the first step to moulding a learner who will be responsible, respectful and accountable for their actions, according to Daiber.
“Think of it as supporters at a soccer game. The people identify with the players on the field and those who came to support the players too, as if they were of the same kind,” he says, referencing sport supporters often wearing their team’s colours and uniform.
“If you think of Maslow’s hierarchy, this is one of the human needs,” he says of the sense of belonging he believes is created by school uniform.
Daiber is quick to disagree with the learner consensus that school uniforms are an enemy to individuality and self-expression. “There are other times when the learners can express themselves. Through their words, their comments, their actions, in their essays. Expression and individuality do not depend on any external factors. Individuality is about the internal factors instead,” he reasons.
On practicality, Daiber adds that it is more cost-effective to wear the same clothes day after day. “If you had to get so many extra Reebok shirts and Nike shoes that you could have enough to wear every day, you’d rack up quite the expense in the place of school uniform, and learners from more financially fortunate households would get more recognition than those who don’t,” he says.
He also believes uniform offers learners safety from preying eyes. “It is a more neutral, professional option. In bigger companies, one often sees a uniform,” he adds.