Banning the boots

Guyana Chronicle
September 15, 1999

EDUCATION Minister, Dr. Dale Bisnauth may very well have a fight on his hands with his move to outlaw overpriced and "fashionable footwear" [please note: link provided by LOSP web site] in schools.

His main interest seems to be in trying to help parents who can ill afford the extra burden of meeting the expenses to dress children for school in today's latest fashion.

The minister says the proposed regulations have become essential because of mounting complaints from parents about the cost of participating in events organised by schools.

But the fight against his move may come from those students who seem to think that going to school without those high-priced foot gear and the other latest wear is a fate far worse than not going to school at all.

A spot check about the proposal yesterday showed that parents may be overjoyed at the decision but it's still too early to properly gauge the reaction to the minister's move.

As we noted yesterday, [please note: link provided by LOSP web site] this first generation of `television' Guyanese seems to be mainly hooked into the all-pervasive American culture and it may be difficult to wean such people on third world incomes from tastes more in line with the rich `developed world'.

What is clear, however, is that dressing for school these days is no longer the simple business it was here up to not so long ago.

The dress code seems to have been thrown through the window and school uniforms are clearly no longer the distinguishing wear for students in nursery, primary and secondary schools.

The dress creed today is more in line with brand names - brand name boots, bags to carry school books in (even carry-on school bags that are more like the push or pull carry-on luggage that airline pilots, flight attendants and some passengers use!) and `brand name' hairstyles.

If students spend so much time (and money) on looking `good' for going to school, how serious can they really be about school work?

It's a long road from the days of not so long ago when only the basics were required for children going to school - the school uniform, simple hair style, well-kept nails and teeth properly brushed. Sometimes it was all so basic, it was difficult to tell the rich kids apart from the poor kids - they almost all looked alike going to and from school.

We are told that the cost of a pair of the boots one student is wearing in our page one spread of photos is $34,000.

Now, what does a kid want with wearing a $34,000 pair of boots to school? What then would be the cost of a pair of boots or shoes he wears for going out on weekends, like to a party, wedding or a dance?

Given the kind of peer pressure children are under at school and with all the evidence pointing to a code that has been kicked clean out the door (by a pair of $34,000 boots, perhaps?) it is clear that an attempt at tightening regulations is more than in line.

It would, however, be interesting to see how Dr. Bisnauth carries through on this proposal.

A lot of people may be standing firm in their boots against him.

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