Saying that parents should have more choice in where to buy their children’s uniforms, the Supreme Education Council has told Qatar schools to relax their clothing sales requirements.
The new instructions came in the form of a circular to private schools and kindergartens, the Peninsula reports.
It prohibits schools from exclusively tying up with retailers or suppliers to sell uniforms, and has been met with relief by many parents who said they are looking forward to saving their money.
The cost and availability of school uniforms has been a long-standing source of frustration for many parents, as many schools across Doha require pupils to wear school-branded dresses or shirts that are only available in specific shops or are sold through the school.
Often, these branded items are considerably more expensive than generic ones that can be bought on the wider market.
According to the SEC’s new circular, schools would be allowed to set the color and design of the uniform, and can provide a logo that parents can have stitched on to shirts or dresses, but they can no longer mandate that parents buy specially produced items with pre-sewn school emblems.
They are also not allowed to prescribe particular shades of color or special quality material that is not available in the wider market, the Peninsula reports.
Additionally, the circular states that schools cannot have any financial interests related to uniforms or sell the uniforms on campus.
The new rules are apparently a bid to break up a perceived monopoly between some schools and particular school uniform stores in Qatar. It follows a similar anti-monopoly directive issued by Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce last year.
At that time, the ministry asked the SEC to stop schools from selling uniforms from on-campus shops by September 2014, saying the practice was in violation of Law No (19) of 2006 on protection of competition and prevention of monopoly.
And two years ago, the SEC responded to complaints from some parents about the cost of school uniforms by ordering all independent (state-funded) schools to allow uniforms to be made or bought from any shop.
School suppliers Zaks on the Salwa Road is the sole outlet for many school uniforms in Qatar. Several schools here also continue to sell uniforms through onsite shops, despite the recent apparent ban of this practice.
No one from Zaks was available for comment.
And some private schools, such as Park House English School, told Doha News it had yet to receive the latest SEC directive.
The school’s director, Niall Brennan, said that until it did, uniforms would continue to be sold in the not-for-profit shop on campus, which is run by the school’s Parent Teacher Association.
He added that ensuring pupils wore proper uniform is an important part of the school’s ethos:
“Uniforms are a part of the learning process and teach discipline and conformity which are essential building blocks. As a top tier school we invest heavily in all of the building blocks, including our uniforms. These span not only what the children wear in class but also on the sports field and in our other activities, be it diving to go-karting, dancing to karate.”
Meanwhile, the Ideal Indian School confirmed to Doha News that it had received the circular, and was considering its response. The school currently requires parents to buy uniforms from textiles store Raymonds, which carries the school-approved material and logos.
However, the school drew criticism from its parents when it announced at the end of September that it was changing its uniform color and design and that a new beige and brown uniform would be available for purchase through the school in March next year.
The school official could not confirm how the new SEC directive would affect these plans.
On Twitter today, many Qatar parents welcomed the news that they would be given a wider choice on where to buy uniforms:
How do you feel about the new directive? Thoughts?
Zack is a sort of chaotic souq where is also hard to find items such as swim suit for school ….a big mess, a nightmare
What a horrible statement by an educator
‘Uniforms are a part of the learning process and teach discipline and conformity which are essential building blocks.’
They want to teach kids conformity? That is shocking and goes against education principals of allowing young minds to develop their own individual critical thinking.
I am for school uniforms but for a different reason, it reduces discrimination where the rich kids can wear the latest fashions and the kids from poorer backgrounds are made to feel inferior. Kids can be cruel as they say.
Yes schools should promote free thinking. But it is important to teach them conformity as well. Because when these kids grow up and get jobs, are they going to be able to dress anyway they want? No they are not.
People don’t realize school isn’t just for teaching kids math and language. School is supposed to prepare kids for life as well, and in life you have to conform to things you don’t like from time to time.
Yes children should be taught social norms and what they mean but have the choice to take another path if they wish. However educators talking about conformity is scary and the 20th century has made examples of where such conformity went wrong and religion has an even longer history of forcing conformity on individuals, sometimes persuading them that such wicked acts are in fact good and serve your lord.
Nobody is forcing people to send their children to this school (or any other for that matter). I think you’ll find that the majority of parents appreciate having a school uniform and it’s not that stifling to the children to conform a little bit in what they are wearing, it frees up their imagination for other tasks at school. There are schools without uniforms or even home schooling if the parents feel that strongly about uniforms.
If you read my comments I am actually in favour of school uniforms for the reasons I outlined above. However I am against the statement by the so called educator that this is to teach children conformity.
If a school doesn’t have a uniform, they still have a dress code just like one would have at work. You don’t have to wear the same shirt as the person next to you, but it should be similar in style or level of appropriateness.
Since when have schools ever been about individual critical thinking. Schools are all about creating mass conformity. Real creativity and thinking outside of the box does not exist when trying to educate the great unwashed.
I agree with you…the problem is now some kids may feel inferior to others or want to have the latest brand…the greed of these companies has meant that they have now lost out on a lot of business as well as opening the possibility for kids to feel inferior because the parents cant afford (or simply dont want to) buy branded gear
“No one from Zaks was available for comment.”
That’s because they’re crying their eyes out in some dark room
Watch schools start charging 99 riyals for a 1.5 riyal stitch on logo.
Schools are the biggest hypocrites, it’s always astounded me that school are intended to sow the virtues of ethics in students, whilst pushing for practices like these. In all my years of schooling and higher education, over 7 different countries I saw the same things and it really frustrates me now as an adult.
a PE kit, in one of the schools here, is over QAR 300… but hey!” its a really nice quality…rugby uniform material” …who cares about rugby quality? kids lose things…just a shirt or a shorts its really expensive! and the kids don’t care, they trash the clothes, they grow… what about those families that have 2 or more kids? Backpack also has to be from the school (that actually is great quality though). But how many times the sizes are weird, the kids look like a sack and its really badly made but costs you a FORTUNE!
Should the anti-monopoly directive and Law No. 19 of 2006 not also applicable to others such as car dealerships in this Country where they are deemed as sole suppliers of lets say BMW / Mercedes / Mitsubishi etc??
Depends on who owns those dealerships….
Personally speaking, I think of all the initiatives the SEC have spent the summer mulling over(sarcasm), this should have been way down on their list of priorities. Surely there are far more important problems in schools they could be dealing with?
For instance what about a uniform ( no pun intended), policy dealing with racism that overrides all the schools. This way parents can call out schools when they try to brush unsavory issues under the carpet.
What about dealing with the issues of traffic and parking during pick up and drop off that is a nightmare in most schools because some head teachers won’t come out of the office to face the reality of the situation.
What about looking at staggering the beginning and end of the school day more in order to reduce some of the traffic problems in key areas.
Finally what about creating a questionnaire that is truly anonymous so that parents can really say what they feel about their school.
I can understand the frustrations of parents concerning uniforms and dealing with Zaks is a nightmare at times. Totally agree with opening up the options to buy your blue skirt/ white blouse from wherever.
Anyone who has had the misfortune to go through the “Zaks” experience will be celebrating today. Let’s hope the schools are commercially smart enough to take on this opportunity and execute it properly and avoid fleecing the parents also.
I actually appreciate the convenience of being able to purchase everything I need in one location, and if it’s on the school premises then even better since I’m there every day anyway. I don’t feel I’m getting charged any more, in fact probably less, than I would be anywhere else to say nothing of the headache of having to deal with traffic, parking, and crowds in other locations that I avoid. I don’t consider it a monopoly, rather a service provided by the school, and it sounds like more should consider it. Now will the SEC get back to more immediate and relevant issues such as silly rules about children waiting for RPs not allowed to register for school or not allowing children to transfer from one school to the next since they often have to take the first place available which is rarely their first choice…