When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
Moscow school kids still like it casual
Moscow school kids still like it casual
Kiril Zhurenkov, Sergei Melnikov

MOSCOW - It’s hard to shake the feeling that the idea of reinstating mandatory school uniforms has been discussed on and off ever since school uniforms were abandoned two decades ago.

To recall the discussion last spring: The Duma came to the conclusion that uniforms could ease tensions between social classes at school, and even suggested getting to work on a style. But the Ministry of Education and Sciences was skeptical: why bother, when each school has the right to decide its own dress code? Then the Ministry of Trade came out strongly in favor of uniforms, as an anti-crisis measure to save Russian light manufacturing.

A return to a national dress code for schoolchildren has been backed at the very highest levels, including recent support from Vladimir Putin. The Russian President did say, however, that he thought that uniforms could be dealt with at a regional, or even local, level.

But behind Putin’s announcement was in response to a very specific recent controversy that erupted after a school in the southern Stavropol region forbade several Muslim girls from attending class in a hijab. The girls’ relatives filed a complaint with the region’s Islamic leadership, and eventually the school allowed the girls to attend class wearing a simple headscarf, but not the hijab. After the clash was reported nationally, Putin expressed his support for uniforms.

Stavropol’s governor, Valeri Zerenkov, expressed his supported for uniforms. “Education in our secular state should remain secular,” he said at a ministers’ meeting. “We shouldn’t turn the schoolyard into a place for demonstrating one or another religious practice.”

Zerenkov has already given orders to check with all the educational institutions to make sure that students are wearing ‘secular’ attire, and has also ordered preparation for the introduction of uniforms.

British-style

Officials have no plans for what the uniforms might look like, and appeared to be caught completely off-guard by the governor’s request. Now the Duma is prepared to make their life easier by instituting a uniform for the whole country, which would put Russia on par with Great Britain, where students are still required to wear a uniform to school.

But even in uniform-loving Britain, there is no single, national school uniform, explained Emma Smith, a professor of Education and Social Justice at Leicester University. Practically every school has its own dress code that is tied to the school’s tradition. Most schools there have allowed girls to wear pants instead of skirts since the 1990s, and many of them have even given up on ties for boys. In regards to religious symbols, like elsewhere in Europe, Britain has opened that discussion only recently.

Each school makes its own rules, and if the parents aren’t happy, they file a suit,” Smith explained. “Muslim girls are usually allowed to wear the hijab, but there have been cases where girls have been forbidden from wearing the niqab (which covers the full face except the eyes). However all children are allowed to wear necklaces with religious symbols.”

The British government considers school uniforms an important part of promoting a feeling of belonging at schools and thinks uniforms teach responsibility. In Russia, today’s parents, most of who wore Soviet school uniforms when they went to school, probably have a little experience shortening their uniform dress to a mini-skirt or wearing their uniform jacket with jeans. Maybe they could give their own children a little practical advice if school uniforms are resurrected.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Ideas

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Elon Musk bought Twitter in the name of absolute freedom. But numerous research shows that social media hate speech leads to actual violence. Musk and others running social networks need to strike a balance.

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Freedom on social networks can result in insults and defamation

Jean-Marc Vittori

-Analysis-

PARIS — Elon Musk is the world's leading reckless driver. The ever unpredictable CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is now behind a very different wheel as the new head of Twitter.

He began by banning remote work before slightly backtracking and authorizing it for the company’s “significant contributors.” Now he’s opened the door to Donald Trump to return to Twitter, while at the same time vaunting a decrease in the number of hate-messages that appear on the social network…all while firing Twitter’s content moderation teams.

But this time, the world’s richest man will have to make choices. He’ll have to limit his otherwise unconditional love of free speech. “Freedom consists of being able to do everything that does not harm others,” proclaimed the French-born Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789.

Yet freedom on social networks results not only in insults and defamation, but sometimes also in physical aggression.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest