Generally speaking, though, the uniform is a source of strength. When one gets into it, one perks up; one knows one is expected to conform to certain standards. It is easier to slouch around outside school in town or in the city and dare to do something mischievous when one is not in uniform than when one is in it; and in the event that a student meets with an accident or gets into some complication, the uniform can not only establish his/her identity but, depending on the circumstance, bail him/her out of trouble as well.
Where uniforms are absent, there is also the question of class differences being accentuated with one section of students wearing clothes that are perhaps beyond the reach of another section. Educationists will bear out that this does not augur well for the psychological environment of the school, and may well instil false feelings of superiority or inferiority.
One might argue that a family, however close-knit or however high its standards, does not need to have a uniform of its own either to make its members live up to its expectations or to make them feel more secure or confident. Imagine the head of a family insisting that all its members wear a specific combination of blue and yellow to distinguish it from other families!
The answer is that the public domain is different from the private one, and what is suitable for one may not be so for the other. It might make sense to put up a ‘Commit No Nuisance’ notice on the outside wall of a house, but to do so on the inner wall would be quite inappropriate. Besides, size changes the nature of things. We cannot deal with, say, a crowd of thirty thousand people the same way we would deal with a class of thirty. Just so, what is recommendable at the school level may be totally out of place when it comes to the family.
A school uniform fosters a sense of binding, fellow feeling and camaraderie. It instils a sense of pride and belonging. It is a symbol of loyalty to the values of the institution. At a rudimentary level, uniforms foster a sense of discipline within the child. It brings all students of the school under one banner irrespective of economic, social and religious differences.
There is nothing outdated about school uniforms. They will be needed as long as schools exist. An odd school here and there may well try dumping the idea, but when its repercussions come smashing on its face, who is to say that it will not revert to the good old times?