Following a social media outcry over State and private schools prescribing dress codes for parents, the Education Ministry has decided to issue a circular ordering all schools in the island to remove the restrictions with immediate effect.
Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said he had received many complaints about certain schools actually displaying signs prescribing what clothes were permissible for parents, and especially mothers to wear to school to pick up and drop their children.
Minister Kariyawasam, who spoke to the BBC, said that he had taken steps to ban the restrictions on clothing for entering schools around the country, since women in particular are inconvenienced by the mandatory dress codes.
The Minister said parents were forced to conform to the dress codes if they wanted to pick their children up from school or attend events on the premises.
“We have sent a circular ordering principals of schools that they cannot place restrictions on what to wear when entering schools. Schools cannot decide what attire parents should wear,” the Minister said.
The Minister said most working mothers did not wear saree to offices, and some even had mandatory uniforms to wear to work. “In those cases, these mothers are compelled to wear saree in the mornings just to drop off their children in school and then change again for work,” the Minister said.
He said that schools would only advise parents to come suitably dressed, without prescribing specific attire.
“Most parents would know how to dress appropriate for an academic environment,” Kariyawasam said.
The world was a changing place, the Education Minister said, and trying to enforce traditional trappings only caused inconvenience to the public. “Our laws and regulations should help the public, not hassle them,” he noted.
The school dress code issue erupted on social media networks after a signboard at a leading Catholic school in Colombo prescribing ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ attire for parents, especially women was posted on Facebook. The picture raised heated discussion about regulations imposed on attire by state and private schools in a manner than infringed upon individual liberty. (DB)