This note is made public in the context in which the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research (MECR) of Moldova examines at present the recommendations regarding the school uniform and requests opinions through an online questionnaire on its webpage (with a deadline by May 02, 2018); these are to be followed later on by wider public consultations and an analysis of impact/ costs. The survey made online by MECR questions many aspects, but the questions discussed so far did not include questions on the costs involved and the maximal budget of the parents.
Buying every year a new set of school uniform – involves significant additional expenditures for parents. The price of a new complete school set (autumn-spring and winter, including change), bought once per year, involves for parents in Moldova mandatory expenditures above 2-3,000 MDL (100-150 Euro) for each child – and such a cost is very high comparing to the minimum salary in Moldova (2,380 MDL monthly salary for a parent employed in the real sector, and only 1,100 MDL monthly salary for an employee in the state sector) or the average monthly salary for the economy (6,150 MDL). The schools and the Government have the moral obligation to take a responsible attitude regarding the budgets of all parents. Any compensatory measures (ex. allowances) examined for the social-vulnerable families will not be a sufficient management of the social impact, as these high costs are a problem also for the families with average salaries (so the majority of parents), for ex. a family with 2 children and parents working for the state sector.
Between the 2 extremes (with or without the uniform) it is recommended for the MECR to choose the half-way measure – adopting only a general regulation on the dress code in schools, and the decision to adopt or not a school uniform – is to stay at the discretion of every school, under a framework set by the MECR regulation. In this way, schools will maintain their autonomy and will take into account the situation in every community, as well as the opinion of parents and pupils in that school.
Adopting a strict classic uniform in schools – aiming to ensure social equality – may paradoxically have an opposite effect in the context of Moldovan prices and markets, as the uniform may become accessible only for children from high income families, and it may become a problem even for the families with say 2-3 children and average incomes. As the uniforms available for purchase vary greatly as price and quality (ex. the quality can be easily seen after 2-3 washes), than one risks observing an opposite effect to the desired goal: the high income families will wear more expensive and fancy uniforms, while children from medium and low incomes families will have a more limited set of clothes with a different overall look. Education is mandatory and free, therefore attending a school should not create expenditures for parents.
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