Even though school uniforms are now obsolete in most developed countries, they are still the subject of serious discussion in Thailand. Bangkok Christian College has launched an initiative to allow students to choose what they wear.
8th January 2019 sees the first day for students to wear casual dress or clothing with the school insignia. The idea is to put smiles on their faces and create an attractive landscape throughout the school.
After a decade of discussion, and based on research in foreign countries that shows that casual dress can relieve stress and promote confidence in students, Bangkok Christian College, one of the oldest protestant schools in Thailand, will let students wear what they want every Tuesday for one term. If overall academic performance declines, the initiative will be terminated.
Suphakit Jitklongsub, the College Director, revealed that the change in the rules is intended to make students happy and creative, and to show that individual diversity can be harmonious.
The Ministry of Education’s 2008 Uniform Rules set certain standards for uniforms for different levels of education, but schools can in the end diverge from them as they see appropriate.
While conservatives claim that uniforms are a social equalizer, prevent distractions from learning, and carry nostalgic experiences after graduation, liberals in Thailand argue that they only hide inequality under the rug while oppressing diversity, creativity, and right to choose one’s own appearance.
Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, the chair of In Praise of Education, told Prachatai English that it is a surprise to him that Bangkok Christian College made such a move. "Bangkok Christian is a conservative school to certain extent. I think that what happens is not driven by political ideology, but rather by problem-solving thinking based on research and experiences."