Experimenting with college uniforms, a “band-aid” on actual college issues | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

While college students have returned to class after the end-of-year holidays, the September return to highschool guarantees to be totally different in a number of institutions: the obligatory college uniform will likely be examined for 2 years in sure major, center and excessive colleges. An initiative determined by the earlier Minister of Education, Gabriel Attal, throughout his temporary go to to rue de Grenelle. Teachers, psychologists and specialists stay uncertain in regards to the worth of the measure.

Two navy blue tops – a sweater and a short-sleeved polo shirt – costume two fashions positioned on a stage. On the chest are embroidered a small French flag, on the correct, and the phrases “The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region” on the left.

Proudly, regional president Laurent Wauquiez (Les Républicains) introduced on

A uniform assured “100% manufactured by regional textile companies”, he assured, stressing that this initiative was “sustainable and good for employment”.

But many highschool college students within the space do not appear to share his enthusiasm, and a few make enjoyable of a uniform on TikTook that they contemplate ugly and even embarrassing.

A minister “not yet convinced”

Before this announcement from Laurent Wauquiez, the now former Minister of Education, Gabriel Attal, introduced on December 6 a plan to check college uniforms in a number of institutions.

Public colleges in voluntary municipalities will be capable to arrange this experiment from September, and even from spring for essentially the most “motivated”. Tourcoing, Reims, Nice in addition to the departments of Allier and Alpes-Maritimes have proven curiosity on this check. The adoption of the uniform would require a modification of the inner rules of the institutions which can embark on this path.

And, after all, the uniform has a value: the essential package for every scholar – ​​5 polo shirts, two sweaters and two pants – would value round 200 euros, based on Franceinfo. But households is not going to pay the worth, since half of the price will likely be lined by native authorities and the opposite half by the State.

Despite the enthusiastic response of a handful of municipalities, Gabriel Attal himself questioned this experiment. “I am divided on the question of uniforms. I am not yet convinced that this is a solution which would resolve everything,” he admitted on Franceinfo. Nor are academics, psychologists and specialists on the topic.

On secularism, this “won’t change much”

One of the federal government’s foremost arguments in favor of faculty uniforms is that it might curb future makes an attempt to undermine secularism – whereas controversies round clothes related to Islam usually come up in public debate.

On September 4, the chief banned abayas, lengthy clothes worn by girls and ladies, thought-about “contrary” to French secular values. The ban sparked a wave of anger throughout the nation, with some saying unfastened clothes overlaying the physique was not an ostentatious show of faith and shouldn’t be banned.

The precept of secularism signifies that sporting any signal or clothes demonstrating a scholar’s spiritual affiliation is in opposition to the legislation. A legislation handed in 2004 bans “conspicuous religious symbols” in public colleges – together with Muslim headscarves, giant Christian crosses, Jewish yarmulkes and even turbans worn by Sikhs.

“Honestly, I don’t think the uniform will change anything in the social climate in schools,” says Sabrina* after letting out an audible sigh. For this former trainer and present college psychologist within the 20e district of Paris, “perhaps the students will feel less different from each other, or that they will no longer have to wonder how to get dressed every morning.” But in relation to secularism, self-discipline or college bullying, she “doesn’t think it will change much.”

“The forms of violence do not come from the clothes worn by the students”

Violence has elevated in colleges in recent times, sparking intense debate over the way to enhance safety. In October, a former scholar of a highschool in Arras, file S, fatally stabbed Dominique Bernard, a French trainer. In December, a 12-year-old schoolgirl threatened a trainer with a kitchen knife in Rennes. The similar month, a number of youngsters have been convicted for his or her position within the assassination of professor Samuel Paty in 2020.

According to the earlier Minister of Education, the uniform experiment goals to measure its impression on questions of secularism, harassment, authority, educational outcomes and even social inequalities. On this final level, Sabrina notes that “even children feel that social differences go beyond material possessions.” And added: “Having sneakers with holes or not is something visible. It will not erase social differences.”

Céline* agrees. “The forms of violence do not come from the clothes worn by the students,” assures this trainer. “Look at countries like the UK, where uniforms have been used for many years. Lack of authority from teachers or schools and bullying is still a problem there.”

Schools that participate within the check would require their college students to put on a uniform for 2 years, in order that researchers can perform a scientific analysis and study whether or not the experiment was efficient or not. But analysis from nations the place this distinctive garment is already in use – such because the United States or the United Kingdom – means that the fact is just not so easy.

“Although uniforms homogenize students and can provide a system of control and discipline, there are no studies to support the idea that they help reduce violence, prevent bullying, or improve academic performance.” , says Rachel Shanks, lecturer on the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

The researcher, a specialist at school uniforms, even famous that this distinctive merchandise of clothes can typically even reinforce discrimination. In Washington, for instance, black college students are twenty occasions extra probably than white ladies to be expelled from college for violating costume codes.

“France is afraid of Islamization”

The thought of ​​obligatory uniforms in French public colleges is just not new. It can be primarily supported by right-wing and far-right politicians. Former Minister of Education Xavier Darcos defended this concept in 2003. Jean-Michel Blanquer, one in every of his successors, too.

The measure additionally appeared within the marketing campaign program of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in 2022. Her social gathering, the National Rally, additionally tabled a invoice to this impact in January 2023, which was rejected by the presidential majority.

“Every time the symbols of the Republic are threatened, this kind of proposal arises like a political gadget,” notes Hamid*, a trainer in a vocational highschool within the southern suburbs of Paris.

Sabrina and Anne*, literature professors at a school in Seine-Saint-Denis, each consider that it is a political transfer aimed toward repressing French republican values. “For me, this immediately conjures up images of a fascist society,” says Anne. For Sabrina, “France is afraid of Islamization and radicalization. And to respond to this fear, the government has decided to put a plaster on the issue.”

Schools produce other priorities

The concept that the uniform is not going to put an finish to highschool bullying, social inequalities and won’t reinforce secularism is a consensus amongst academics, their unions and training specialists. In truth, public colleges face larger points to handle as an entire.

For Rachel Shanks, “School uniforms are sometimes seen as an easy way to solve problems that actually come from outside, and that schools can’t really solve.” Céline, who consents, notes that “wearing the uniform is regularly proposed as a sort of return to the authority of past years.”

Uniforms usually are not a precedence for a lot of public colleges. They are unable to fulfill the wants of their college students as a result of continual underfunding. Thousands of educating positions weren’t stuffed on the final college 12 months as a result of recruitment difficulties. Teachers deplore the deterioration of their working situations and have even demonstrated to denounce it.

“Given the low success rate of French vocational high schools in recent years, our priority is to improve our working conditions, increase teachers’ salaries to encourage recruitment, help students find internships, provide them with IT tools…”, lists Hamid.

“In my school, the current priority is to help teachers do their job,” adds Sabrina. “If there’s cash to spend, you may as properly spend it elsewhere [que dans les uniformes, NDLR].” And Céline concludes: “School is all the time introduced as a shock absorber for society’s ills, nevertheless it can not clear up all the pieces.”

* To partly protect the anonymity of these interviewed, solely their first names are given.

This article is an adaptation, the unique model, in English, is signed Lara Bullens.