For many students, the pandemic has been a continuing nightmare, with courses brought online and into their homes for months at a time. Now, the Trat Communicable Disease Control Committee
might be raising pandemic anxiety to the next level with a call for students to wear school uniforms in virtual classes.
In a committee meeting regarding the upcoming semester, held May 28 in Trat province, officials floated the suggestion, as reported by local media Trat TV
and, later, Matichon
Although the committee has insisted that public schools are not under any obligation to follow this suggestion, the news has been greeted with outrage from students and educators whose remote-learning experiences have taken a toll on their mental health.
“This just reflects the backward mindset they have. If you really think making students wear uniforms will teach them to be more disciplined in life, what is your take on Prayuth? He has been wearing uniforms all his life, and he can’t even spell the word discipline,” wrote Facebook user Tarawat Watchanarat on a Bad Student Facebook post
revealing the news. The post has drawn nearly 3,000 comments and has been shared over 13,000 times since this morning.
Bad Student takes aim mandatory uniforms in virtual classes; image courtesy of Bad Student Twitter page
Among Thailand’s conservative circles, wearing uniforms is about promoting discipline. But this notion of training students not to question draconian rules has been challenged by several groups of student rights advocates recently.
Among the most vocal is Bad Student
, a group of student activists that has called for the abolition of haircut regulations and uniforms, among other changes. Last year, the group ran a no-uniform day campaign. At least 23 schools joined in the movement.
Bad Student, which rose to prominence during the 2020 protests, has also highlighted how even school socks can undermine student freedom. In Thailand, the group says, some schools prohibit students from buying their own, forcing them to purchase socks from the schools’ sahakorn
stores at higher prices
Socks: an unexpected target of student rights advocates; image courtesy of Bad Student Twitter page
With Covid-19 caseloads at record levels across the country, all schools in Thailand are returning to remote classes at least until Jun 14. The new circumstances have made it even more difficult for schools to maintain their old traditions.
Still, the idea of students using clippers to cut their own hair or hitting themselves with metal rulers in front of their virtual classmates remains far-fetched for the time being.
*This story has been edited to reflect the original source reporting from Trat TV and Matichon.