In Malaysia, school uniforms (Malay: Pakaian Seragam Sekolah) are compulsory for all students who attend public schools. Malaysia introduced Western style school uniforms in the late 19th century during the British colonial era. Today, school uniforms are almost universal in the public and private school systems.
Uniforms worn in Malaysian public schools
The uniforms at Malaysian public schools are as follows:
- Primary school
- White shirt and
- Navy blue short trousers; or
- Navy blue long trousers
- White shirt and
- Navy blue pinafore over white shirt; or
- White baju kurung (a long tunic that covers the arms) over long navy blue skirt
- Secondary school
- White shirt and
- Olive green long trousers; or
- Olive green short trousers; or
- White trousers (generally only for Form 6 students)
- White shirt and
- Turquoise pinafore over white shirt (Form 1 to Form 5); or
- Turquoise skirt with white blouse (generally only for Form 6 students); or
- White baju kurung (a long tunic that covers the arms) over long turquoise skirt (Form 1 to Form 6)
As to the choice between long or short trousers for boys, in recent times it has become more common for Muslim boys to wear long trousers, especially at secondary level. Chinese or Indian boys still wear short trousers at primary level and in the first couple of years of secondary at some schools.
Students are required to wear white socks and white shoes with the above uniform. For modesty reasons as well, most schools require female students who wear the baju kurung to wear a plain-coloured camisole underneath.
In addition to these, schools usually have their own school badges which must be sewn or ironed on to the uniform - generally at the left chest. Some schools also require students to sew their name tags in addition to the school badge. For upper forms, students generally have to wear a school-specific tie, except those who are wearing the baju kurung.
In Malaysia, Muslim girls tend to wear the baju kurung. Most of them start wearing a white tudung (Malaysian version of the Muslim headscarf or hijab) upon entering secondary school, for religious reasons. Non-Muslim girls tend to wear the pinafore. Some non-Muslim girls wear the baju kurung.
Girls who choose to wear the pinafore, especially those attending co-ed schools, also usually wear shorts under their pinafore to allow for carefree movement as the skirt of the pinafore only covers up to the knee. Those who wear the baju kurung tend not to wear shorts under their long skirt as their long skirt already covers their legs.
Public schools also have their own authority to set special school uniforms for prefects, class monitors, librarians and as such, there are many varieties of them depending on schools.
Neckties are often worn by prefects, class monitors, librarians, and other students of rank. Some schools have neckties as standard issue, but even then, the neckties are generally reserved for school events and public appearances, and are not part of the everyday school uniform, the tropical climate making them uncomfortable.
The hairstyle of students is also given attention by schools and the Ministry of Education Schools do not allow students to colour their hair. For boys, there is usually a maximum length of hair allowed, for example, the hair must be a few centimetres above the collar, and no sideburns are allowed. Violation of boys' hair regulations is often punished with a caning but some schools offer the alternative of an enforced haircut at the school. The use of hair gel is prohibited in some of the stricter schools, in order to prevent excessive hairdressing. For girls with long hair, their hair must be properly tied up, often into a ponytail. Some schools dictate the colour and type of hair accessories that can be used. Some prohibit even girls from having long hair. Wearing make up in school is prohibited.
Schools usually enforce their school uniform code thoroughly, with regular checks by teachers and prefects. Students who fail to comply may be warned, given demerit points, publicly punished, sent home from school, or caned.
Private primary schools generally have uniforms identical to those of the public system. Most private secondary schools, however, have their own school uniform. Today, many private schools have their students wear polo shirts in the school colours, and girls wear skirts instead of pinafores. The "baju kurung" is also accepted.
There is no set uniform in kindergartens as they are privately owned. Each kindergarten might have different uniforms or allow free choice of clothing. The uniform in most Malaysian kindergartens is the sailor uniform. These schools also tend to have a sports uniform. The remainder have uniforms identical to that of the public primary school uniform.
- Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia 1997. Surat Pekeliling lkhtisas Bil. 3/1983 - Pakaian Seragam Murid-murid Sekolah. Retrieved 4 June 2007. Available online at [www.pibg.net.my]
- SMK Perempuan Sandakan. Peraturan Sekolah''. Retrieved 5 June 2007.
- Aliran Pemikiran Pendidik Malaysia. Peraturan Sekolah''. Retrieved 5 June 2007.
- Tan Ee Loo, "Teachers and students scoff at 'baseless' statement", The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 23 May 2008.
- Tan Ee Loo, "Student with 'too transparent' uniform can be told to wear undergarment", The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 24 May 2008
- Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia 1997. Surat Pekeliling lkhtisas Bil. 2/1976 - Potongan Rambut Murid-murid''. Retrieved 5 June 2007.
- "Students get a trimming from their peers", The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 12 August 1998.
- Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia 2003. Surat Pekeliling Iktisas Bil:7/2003 - Kuasa Guru Merotan Murid. Retrieved 4 June 2007.