The Education Ministry has abolished the nationwide school uniform requirement and lifted the headscarf ban for religious imam-hatip schools, with an amendment to dress codes in other public schools.     

The new regulation, which was published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday, will be implemented starting in the 2013-2014 academic year. According to the new regulation, pre-, primary, middle and high school students will no longer be required to wear a specific uniform. The students will be able to dress in everyday attire, but the ministry put a new set of rules in the dress code policy that will limit the students’ freedom in selecting their outfits.

The new regulation includes prohibitions on clothing that is transparent or too form-fitting, like leggings. Students will also be forbidden to wear clothing that is sleeveless, or which features political symbols, shapes or writing.

Females will not be allowed to wear miniskirts, slit skirts or make-up, while male students will no longer have to wear ties. Students will still be able to continue to wear school uniforms if they wish to do so.

The regulation also lifted the headscarf ban for imam-hatip schools, while the ban will continue in other schools. Students in middle and high school will be permitted to wear headscarves only during elective courses on the Quran, according to the new regulations.

The lifting of the school uniform requirement has been the subject of much debate in Turkey. Those who do not favor the idea have claimed that class differences will become more obvious, especially in environments where there is serious income disparity. The removal of the requirement will lead to a decrease in the quality of education and to disciplinary problems, they have argued.

Some of those who favor the elimination of the requirement, on the other hand, have described the school uniforms as a reflection of a militarist mentality, while others have argued that comfortable clothing will make students’ participation in class easier.