Teach Abroad - Thailand, Teach Abroad Programs

Thailand’s School Uniform Policy and Other Observations

by Paul Hoffman, Greenheart Travel Teach Abroad Participant in Thailand

When I arrive each morning at Kanchanapise School for my Teach Abroad program in Thailand, I marvel at the appearance of all the students. It’s the uniforms!  All the students look identical.  This is a visual phenomenon that I’m not used to.

While I was a student back in the middle ages know as the 70’s and 80’s, we did not wear uniforms at my school. I realize that some schools in the U.S. had, and still have, a uniform policy for their students. And, it seems each year, especially in the late summer or fall, the subject of school uniforms comes up in the U.S. newspapers and media outlets. Some parents (and possibly a few students) are for the idea of uniforms and some some parents (and a lot of students) are against the idea of uniforms.

I’m sure if someone would have asked me if I would like to wear a uniform while I was in Junior High or High School – I would have given an emphatic NO WAY!!  But now, after seeing the uniforms and seeing how the policy works, I absolutely believe that all schools should adopt a uniform policy for their students!  Every school in the U.S. should do this, in my opinion.

Thai students grow up wearing uniforms to primary school, secondary school, and even to College – so for them it’s no big deal.  They have gone through many ultra light blue (almost white) shirts / blouses and many dark blue shorts and skirts.  They know it’s normal for school and it’s just accepted as common practice here.  Kind of like driving on both sides of the road and all over the sidewalk – it’s common practice here.  The shirts and blouses here at Kanchanapise even have the students name embroidered on them – a wonderful touch!

Of course, there is that financial burden on the Thai parents when it comes to buying the school uniforms since they have to purchase multiple school tops, bottoms, socks, shoes, etc, etc….  But, ask any parent in the U.S. about back to school shopping for their kids and they will be happy to tell you about the “not so small” fortune that was spent on designer jeans and brand name tops and the best Nike or Adidas shoes and ALL of the accessories that go with it!!  All in all, the Thai parents probably spend way less on school uniforms then the U.S. parents spend on the latest trends involved with the “must haves” for back to school!

Just like in the military, by taking away the students individual expressive freedom involved with their own clothes and hairstyles it let’s them focus more at the task at hand – which is school. Being in class, studying, and taking tests is serious business here in Thailand. So, if the students don’t have to worry about what to wear, or what their friends are wearing, it makes it much easier to direct more attention to where it belongs – school!

Here are a few more “You know you’re in Thailand when” realizations for the week!  Hopefully they will tickle your funny bone:

*Businesses are like mushrooms – they spring up overnight here!  And, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive!  Thai people seem to have a 6th sense when it comes to what others need and what others will pay for – and they act on that sense.  I’ve seen food carts and motor-scooter sidecar businesses open up right next to a school when it’s letting out classes for the day.  They have an instant customer base!  There are ladies that set up their sewing machines on the sidewalk in the afternoon just to mend your clothes and there are men that sit down (on the sidewalk of course) with a small wooden table and repair your shoes – both are there to make a few legitimate baht.  Great ideas!

*A business that sells nothing but hula hoops!  I’m not kidding!!  If you’re in Thailand, you know what I’m talking about!

*Yes, it’s hot here.  Not like hot you’ve felt or lived through before.  The humidity scale starts at 105%.  The heat index (which is a measure of temperature and humidity combined) starts around 148 degrees and goes up from there.  My best advice – stay hydrated!!

*Don’t bring a 110 volt nightlight from the U.S. and plug it into the wall socket in your apartment. You may trip the circuit breakers for your entire floor or burn down the entire building!  (Not that I would know from personal experience or anything like that….)

*If you know how to cut a boys hair into a perfect crew cut style or a girls hair into a prefect page-boy style, you could open up a barber shop and make millions!  You just need to know two hair styles – that’s it.

*Home, business, garage, bedroom, kitchen, living room – all one in the same!  I kid you not!

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

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