Pakistan’s business school sparks controversy with strict dress code
- POSTED: 05 Oct 2013 01:01
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A business school in one of the best Pakistani universities has made it mandatory for female students to wear a scarf, and have banned wearing jeans on campus.
LAHORE, Pakistan: A business school in one of the best Pakistani universities has made it mandatory for female students to wear a scarf, and have banned wearing jeans on campus.
The strict dress code policy has sparked a nationwide debate about whether the country's educational institutions are being "Talibanised".
The business school, in the National University of Sciences (NUST) -- one of the world's top 500 universities -- has hit the international headlines for all the wrong reasons.
It started with a picture posted on a social networking website that showed NUST’s students being fined for wearing jeans, and female students being fined for not wearing a scarf on campus.
And yet the administration seemed to have been completely taken aback by the adverse reaction, as they claim the rules are nothing new.
Dr Ashfaq Hassan, dean of the business school in NUST, said: “It has been there for quite some time. Every year, three to five students are fined on the basis of this, because this is a dress code.
“One of the students took a photo of the fine and just put it on the website, and then there was a hue and cry. This is the best way to take revenge on the university because there is no control over social media.”
Young Pakistanis do tend to dress smartly, albeit modestly, and the majority of young women do wear a scarf on their shoulder.
But there are some female students who dress casually in just jeans and a top, and for many of the male students, jeans are an everyday item of clothing.
Therefore, this recent move by the NUST’s administration is being widely criticised by young Pakistanis, who claim it amounts to nothing less than a Talibanisation of educational institutions.
Analysts however, said there is more to the issue than it first appears.
Sajjad Mir, an educationalist and analyst, said: “We must try to understand it’s not Talibanisation, it’s not a fight between Talibanisation and bohemian life, (but) it’s some disciplinary action that has been taken by that university about the students who were caught in some indecent manners.”
However, the negative message of the so-called "indecent manners" is usually played down, in favour of the positive message that business schools actually want their students to dress formally, as it is good training for their future careers in the corporate world.
And the students themselves seem rather divided on the issue.
While one student said that the rule should be followed since it is part of the corporate culture, another student said that some forms of dress do not suit everybody and that they should be allowed to wear what suits them and what they are comfortable in.
Experts said that in a fast-changing Pakistan, this youthful opposition to dictated standards of dress is completely understandable.
Sajjad Mir said: “In our day, there was different discipline, different style, different dress, different attitude and there was no harm in that.
“This is the same, it’s a cultural conflict and we should not take it for more than that.”
Time and again, the broadcast and social media have been accused of overplaying issues to win headlines.
This easy accusation is being laid at the door of the media once again, with the issue of the Talibanisation of the school’s dress-code being treated as nothing more than a generational gap’s disconnect -- a phase of cultural change that rises and falls in every progressive society.