The Ministry of Education is drafting new regulations that could give junior-high school students a say on their school uniforms, dress code and hair policies as early as the next school year, a ministry official said on Saturday.
Under the proposed regulations, all junior-high schools would be required to set up a dress code committee made up of administrators, teachers and members of the parents’ association, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that at least one-quarter of the committee’s members would need to be elected student representatives.
The committee would host public hearings, presentations or campus-wide surveys to allow students and parents to voice their opinions, and establish rules on clothing and appearance, the source said.
Photo: Rachel Lin, Taipei Times
The new regulations aim to guarantee students’ physical autonomy and create a campus culture of trust and open-mindedness, the source said.
Dress code contraventions would no longer be a cause for discipline at elementary, junior-high and high schools, the official said.
Elementary, junior-high and high schools would not be allowed to dictate students’ hairstyles, the source said, adding that at junior-high and high schools, students would be allowed to mix their school uniforms with gym uniforms, or wear class or club T-shirts.
However, the school would still be allowed to have a dress code for formal events, physical education classes or laboratory experiments, the official said.
Students would not be allowed to be barefoot or wear open-toed shoes to school without a legitimate reason, the source added.
An estimated 1.8 million students in Taiwan are to benefit from the proposed regulations, the official said.
The proposals were based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and advice from the Presidential Office’s Human Rights Consultative Committee, the source said.
The ministry relaxed dress code policies for high-school students three years ago and said that while high schools were not allowed to penalize students for dress code contraventions, they could still assign community service, or ask students to write self-reflections or reflect on the matter quietly.
Critics said that schools have still found ways to penalize those who disregard dress codes by assigning community service, and then giving them demerits if they failed to show up.
While rules have already been relaxed for high-school students, junior-high school students are not as mature, said Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘), the director of academic affairs at Taichung Municipal Chungming Senior High School.
Families have different financial backgrounds, and allowing students to wear their own clothes to school could lead to comparisons and the bullying of disadvantaged students, he said.
Private schools should be given flexibility so as to not affect their management of school discipline, said Wang Chao-ching (王昭卿), the principal of Tainan’s Chang Jung Senior High School, which has for the past eight years allowed students to wear their own clothes to school on the final days of midterms and during final exams.
Some students have welcomed the freedom the new policies would bring, while others have said it would be “annoying” to have to choose what to wear every day.
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