Czech high school holds referendum on school uniforms

Photo: CTK

In the Czech Republic there is no tradition of wearing uniforms in school. But now, in something of a first, students at a private high school in Dubi, north Bohemia, have held a school referendum on whether or not to introduce school uniforms. The reasons "why" were several.

Photo: CTK
Until now, there was only one other school in the Czech Republic requiring the use of school uniforms, Open Gate in the town of Babice, a British-style boarding school which opened last year. But it will soon be joined by another, the private Jan Amos Komensky high school in Dubi, north Bohemia. Students there went as far as holding a referendum on the issue and a strong majority - more than 70 percent of students as well as teachers - voted in favour. School uniforms, child psychologists point out, do have their benefits: namely creating a level playing field for kids and young adults from various social backgrounds. And that's not all. A little earlier I spoke to 18-year-old student Katerina Klugova, one of the initiators of the project:

"I got this idea when I was in England and I came back. In England lots of kids have uniforms and I got this idea and I thought that we could have uniforms in our school."

What do you like about the uniforms that you think introducing them is a good idea?

"For me it's a good way of representing our school and also deal with social 'problems'. Also, the uniforms can help reduce envy among students, if someone has a nicer shirt and so on. We discussed the idea with our director, with other students and so on."

Were there any students who were 'against' - more individualistic types who would prefer to wear exactly what they want?

"Yes of course. But we explained 'when' the uniforms would be worn, and now most are in favour."

Katerina Klugova says that for now the new uniforms will be worn only on special occasions such as the first day of school. Meanwhile, the school's principal, Jaroslava Turkova, says she regards the referendum and all the debate that preceded it, as a success.

"I'm really impressed with our students and how they handled the whole process: it's very satisfying for me as a professional. They are proud of their school and want people to know it. The uniforms will also be a good thing since as a high school we're part of the Socrates exchange programme in the EU: they will really serve on formal occasions. Again, as a pedagogue, I have to say I'm really proud."

But Mrs Turkova admits that not all the feedback has been positive. After a national newspaper ran a story on the school, some emails received were extremely critical. The principal says she now hopes that some students' excitement over their project will not be soured. Soon they will get their get their new uniforms featuring white and navy blue with orange elements as well as the school's emblem.