The Ministry of Education regulation on haircuts (in government schools) was removed in May 2003, yes thats eight years ago! the new regulation stated it was up to each individual school to set their own rules on the matter.
So, why do some schools still implement this archaic rule as it achieves nothing and does only harm :-
1. It continues to institutionalize some students to ensure they all look the same and restricts individual development.
2. It stigmatizes students in some schools with the label that they are somehow less “worthy” or even “trustworthy” than students at better quality schools.
To give an example, there are five (large) schools in my home town, three government schools and two private schools. Four of the schools do NOT implement the hair cuts and one does. The results are that kids at the haircutting school are made to feel like second class citizens – unable to understand why their peers and friends can be different. Worse still the kids at the school with the haircuts are “identified” as being of lower grade as few parents choose to send kids to this school but often have no choice if they fail to get seats at the others. These kids are also mercilessly laughed at by the kids in the other four schools about their lack of choice. This creates a two tier system where one school is perceived to be of less value than the other four.
In addition, the haircuts are infringing on childrens personal rights outside the classroom and that is something no school or school administrator should have a right to do. It is one thing to force a child to have a short haircut in school but it is an entirely different matter to be forcing them to conform once outside the school gate. This is depriving children of a very basic right to choose.
So why do some schools still do this?
There are several possibilities.
1. Teachers and administrators are simply stuck in the old days and ways. They just don’t understand the damage they are doing by enforcing archaic rules.
2. Administrators (wrongly) believe that “uniformity” is still the best way. They have no training or education themselves about the negative aspects of this practice.
3. Some teachers are simply obsessed with retaining their power and control over the lives of their students.
4. Most likely, the teachers and administrators at these schools don’t actually know that the rule changed, despite it being eight years ago. EVERY teacher we spoke to at the school I mention said they believed it was a national regulation for kids to have these ridiculous haircuts.
A recent study paper by Mahidol University stated that it was vital for the future of the Thai education system that kids be encouraged to develope their individual personalities as the practice of producing automatons was holding back Thai society as a whole.
The answer is simple – someone needs to educate the educators about the harm caused by this practice, especially regarding the social stigmatization of kids at these shools who should be made to feel equal to their friends.
We are all in favour of ensuring “reasonable standards”, indeed the MoE states that the haircuts must be tidy and girls must tie up long hair in pony tails or plaits whist on the school premises.
However there can be no doubt in anyones mind that forcing kids to all look the same stunts their pesonal developement. Any school that still practices this out of date system is doing their students no favours at all.