By Sarah Nafisa Shahid
Once upon a school concert, Cryptic Fate was stunning the audience with their usual awesome performance, all four of the band members adorning a similar shirt with their school's logo on the left pocket - wearing a uniform. And amidst the haze of light and smoke and metulheadzz, I felt so proud of our school uniform and I was proud of being able to wear it.
Now hold on. I hear your scorns and objections already; repression of identity and other freedom-of-clothes related arguments you might have. But uniforms are not about that at all. Wearing a uniform is a way to celebrate being part of something, it initiates the feeling of belongingness and pride that we share with our school. Because if this wasn't the case, I wonder why alumni students prefer holding onto their uniforms as a souvenir.
This feeling of belongingness is not only in the case of educational institutions, but everywhere that a uniform is applicable: it scales up the patriotism inside a soldier, it reminds the doctor about his responsibilities, and the tie reminds the employee about the importance of his job. Uniforms remind individuals of their motive. You think schools and the military only have uniforms? Try wearing three-quarters to a wedding.
Well yes, some schools have uniforms which look worse than a mummy wrap. But that's a problem with the uniform design, not with the uniform itself. In their defense, schools say that the aim is to provide cost-efficient clothing and not to make a fashion statement which is pretty right. Because then there's no chance of judging the book by its cover since all the covers look the same, putting greater emphasis on personality and panache, ultimately causing kids to develop and hone those. Plus, the perk of having uniforms is that you don't have to wake up to Ray Bans, fitted t-shirts and jhikimikis in class everyday which could lead to a lot of who's-hot/who's-not polls. So, let's thank uniforms for saving us from public disturbance. Of course, if you have a magic tongue, you could always persuade your school into improving the uniform design and making it more pleasant.
In a research conducted by Oxford Brookes University, it was shown that wearing uniforms actually improve student behaviour and show a fall in bullying and anti-social acts amongst students. Kids are the future so why not introduce them to a fairer society in their early age so that they can carry it on in the real world? Inside the walls of the school, wearing that uniform, they are allowed to ponder deeper into pressing issues of the world rather than worry about the shallow judgments of fellow fashion critics. Thanks to dull uniforms, we concentrate on our studies which are, if not forgotten amongst finding an outfit in the morning, the main reason to go to school.
Uniforms are essential to a civilised society because it represents the equality that mankind is trying so hard to achieve. Within the branches of classification, we all still stand together as the same, part of one big whole. Uniforms don't repress identity, it gives you one. Strip yourself off of that and how important are you in this universe? Ok, maybe that was a bit too philosophical but you get the point.
Conclusion: uniforms should stay.
Art: E R Ronny
When I forced myself into my new school uniform, I found myself repulsed by its sheer ugliness; a drab palette of elephant greys and light sucking blacks. It made me look forward to school even less than the heavy books in my bag. I grumbled endlessly about the uniform, and to make me feel better about it, a friend linked me to a piece of research about why uniforms aren't really that great.
A recent research shows that the clothes you wear can affect your performance according to how it makes you feel. A lab coat can make you more methodical and astute and a suit can make you more professional. So wearing a uniform would probably help me double-march around the school grounds better, since it does little more than make me feel trapped in a regimented, soul destroying prison.
Where school is supposed to make us learn and think, uniforms effectively take our creativity and snub it out. There is no place for originality in the school. Everybody has to wear the same clothes, and look exactly like the person beside them. The students aren't treated as individuals, because they don't look any different.
Parents send kids to school as a sort of prep before facing the real world. It's ironic then that the uniform clearly does not reflect the outside world. When everyone outside is wearing light colours and short sleeves in the heat, school children have to wear ridiculously full sleeved, dark shirts made of uncomfortably cheap material, and ties. The world has moved on; even corporate adults hardly wear suits and ties to work, but our schools with their unrealistic post-colonial fashion sense think to be dressed up is to wear ties.
Kids need to learn how to appropriately dress themselves in the real world. You might feel thankful toward the uniform now because it saves you the trouble of dressing up for school in the morning, but sooner or later you will have to dress yourself with a groggy head in an impossibly short time, so we should practice planning beforehand. If you don't understand the importance of presenting yourself to your friends in an innovative way with the same old wardrobe, you're going to be horribly broke buying new clothes every week when you actually start going to work.
They say that allowing kids to wear anything to school will make an assembly of Lady Gagas and bling rappers. So they ban casual clothes altogether, without teaching the kids that in real life you can't dress as outrageously. They use class inequality as an excuse, saying in uniforms, everyone is equal. They aren't, they just look so. Some people are better off and some aren't, and when instead of teaching children to have the grace to accept everyone equally, they are taught an absurd escapism from early on.
Rather than creating a huge, wasteful pool of ugly uniforms each year, schools could just have dress codes. With dress codes, you can experiment, find your style, and develop a working sense of fashion without ever looking like you're wearing curtains for clothes. In the real world, you need to make a niche for yourself, even in terms of clothing, and modesty is not about wearing silly rectangular ornas; it is what you make of it.
Interview taken by: Rannia Shehrish
Photo: Tamim Sujat
While most of the world has succeeded in providing the children everything they need, Bangladesh still has a long way to go, with the lack of recreational facilities and all. This begs the question that despite the growing population of children, why aren't there more amenities and entertainment for them? With this in mind we met with Sajal Khaled, a young director who is currently working on a children's film.
Sajal Khaled returned to Bangladesh in 2006 after completing his education on media technology from Germany. Shortly after his return, he began working on his first film - Ekattorer Shobdosena (The Voice Warriors of '71). Since the release of this film, he has worked on several short films, and is at present working on his second big movie. Besides all these, he is an active sportsman. From 2000, he has been spending three months up in the Himalayas every year. Once he had attempted to climb up to the summit of Mount Everest, but was unable to accomplish it due to severe weather conditions.
After concluding the formalities we asked him about his current project. We learnt that the movie is called 'Kajoler Dinratri' based on the popular novel written by Dr Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, who is also writing the script for the movie. “It is a story about Kajol (performed by Tonmoy), a teenage boy whose parents are separating. It depicts the problems the child faces in such situation and how he copes with it.” He details that the specialty of the film is that it showcases a common social problem, something everyone should be aware of.
There are about seven children playing prominent parts, including the main character. Sajal shared with us some of the fun memories during shooting, “We all were heading to Sylhet for the shooting. There were about 40 of us altogether including the children and their guardians. It was evident that neither of them had ever travelled in such a large group and they were thoroughly enjoying the experience. And then the other day we went to shoot near a river. That was one horrifying experience - one of them fell and almost drowned.'
Sajal also told us more about the cast and crew. “Iresh Zaker and the late Zakir Hossain Jagroto are playing the roles of the two villains. I had seen Jagroto performing on stage a long time back and since then I was determined to have him act in one of my movies.” The movie has a variety of songs, ranging from Linkin Park to Bengali songs created for the movie by musician Lucky Aakhand and lyricist Kabir Bakul.
The movie will be released in December. Sajal's plans for this film are huge and he wants to show it in all the 64 districts of Bangladesh for free before it is released on TV. “I want to show this film in the district schools or some other place where everyone can watch it as they too should be aware of such issues.” After that he wants to the movie to participate in foreign festivals. Behind his huge dreams for this movie is his inspiration, his one year old son, Susmit.
Following our query about the lack of children's movies despite the growing population, Sajal answered, “It is widely believed that such movies are not profitable and therefore most directors are not motivated to work on them.” As these movies are not profitable, there's also hard to get proper funding for them.
At the end of the interview we asked him what aspiring directors need to do in order to be successful. “There are three stages in making a project a success - ensure the funding, plan properly and then move on to execution. It is very important to have the perfect person doing a certain job. For example, I have Anwar Hossain on the camera and I know that I don't have to worry about the shots because of him. He will make sure that each and every scene his captured beautifully. Therefore, proper planning is a must for any aspiring director.”
Sajal Khaled's efforts to ensure that this film reaches every child of Bangladesh are truly praiseworthy and hopefully his initiative will inspire many others to do more for the children.