for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. ~UNESCO

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Silken Kiras and Terry cotton Ghos to Hilton glasses and Hush Puppies

Should we encourage students to wear other(casual) dresses on Saturdays and concerts apart from the school uniform?

Mom, I want to wear this sae-sho kira (silk dress) and these pair of Elle pencil heels, demanded a ninth standard student. She wants to wear it tomorrow which is a Saturday and a day where you can wear any (formal) dress of your choice. Lucky was this girl as her father was a prosperous businessman and her mother was a teacher. When Bhutanese schools let their students wear other dresses on Saturdays or concerts, did they give a second thought? This petty practice can lead to many unwanted results in the lives of our students. It is a wise thought but let us view the darker side of it.

Take the following instances into consideration: 1) A student whose parents are struggling to keep the dining table alive with a decent meal will be mentally and physically affected by seeing his friends wearing dazzling silk or bura ghos and classy Adidas shoes when he is wearing a cheap terry cotton gho and a pair of discounted Bata shoes.  2) On contrary, a wealthy man’s son will be busy thinking of which gho he should wear from a collection of a dozen expensive ghos.  I think this custom is promoting culture in a very small way and discriminating the unfortunates on a greater means. It widens and exposes the rich-poor gap.

Moreover, children demand their parents to buy them new clothes when their parents are striving to keep the family abreast.  Children are innocent and we cannot blame them for this. Mr. Sonam, Vice Principal of a Middle secondary school supports this practice of letting students wear other dresses on Saturdays in boarding schools but he too opposes the practice in day schools. He said that this custom segregates the less privileged from the privileged. The culture further de-motivates the financially challenged students to come to school and in a way children (poor) will be psychologically bogged down when they are not wearing what their well-heeled friends are. This culture played its responsibility in the suicide case of a primary student of Woochu Lower Secondary School. He committed suicide because he could not afford to replace his old torn shoes and out of shame, he ended his life.

Like wise, school cultural bonanzas nowadays are becoming a platform to showcase ones wealth and status in society, rather than promoting culture. The day the concert is scheduled, the curiosity starts to boil amongst the students to fashion their Hilton and Ray Ban glasses, their pair of Pepe jeans, the expensive Kishutharas, the rare Oshom kira and the list flows endless. This curiosity, for sure is amongst the fortunate lot of students. The unfortunates keep silent and mentally they are tortured to a great extent. Thus, some capable students are discouraged to participate in the show. The primary aim of organizing a concert is to unearth and nurture the talents of our students and not a forum to exhibit ones best dresses or to promote fashion.
Dress other than school uniform during Saturdays and concerts will leave a deep scar in the lives of unprivileged children’s intellectual and psychological growth. Children instead of concentrating on academics will be lost in dreaming of the best dress they can put on during Saturdays and concerts.
In addition, the practice of giving freedom to wear dresses of children’s choice will breed pride and ego amongst the children and lower self esteems in the case of the unfortunates. If children grow up with such attitudes, the civilization of peace and harmony will always remain a dream to achieve. Schools as an educational institution should not give birth to citizens occupied with pride and ego. A school should instead excel in discovering hidden talents of the students of varied background and nurture with the seeds of knowledge and values. A child should be disciplined through education and school uniform is a vital part of a school which should be strictly implemented no matter what the occasion beholds. Therefore, we should think twice before this culture comes out as a scapegoat for affecting the lives of future builders of Bhutan. If all students from all walks of life are made to wear a single uniformed dress, then the level of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, low self esteem will drastically melt down, there by producing happy citizens of a nation where the country believes in Gross National Happiness rather then Gross national Product.

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