Union seeks lifting of strict dress code for Turkish teachers
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULMar 01, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Mar 01, 2016 12:00 am
A majority of teachers support the removal of a strict dress code that mandates male teachers wear ties and female teachers wear long skirts, representatives of a labor union said yesterday as they announced the results of a survey.
Ali Yalçın, who serves as the head of Turkey's largest civil servants' union, Memur-Sen, and educators' union, Eğitim-Bir-Sen, said at a press conference that more than 62 percent of the teachers they interviewed across Turkey wanted to dress casually, with younger teachers among the main proponents of the abolition of the dress code. Yalçın said they conducted the survey as part of their efforts against bans imposed on teachers, from a ban on female teachers wearing headscarves to prohibitions on growing a beard for male teachers. "We launched a campaign in the past calling for the revoking of a ban on teachers wearing headscarves. In 2013, the ban was finally abolished, along with the requirement of reciting an oath at school every day," he said, referring to an overtly patriotic oath that has long been criticized for its resemblance of rituals to demonstrate loyalty to dictatorial regimes in other countries. "These are important steps, but we are determined to further expand work attire freedom for teachers, especially for men," Yalçın said.
More than 6,000 teachers were interviewed for their opinion on the dress code. The current dress code orders female teachers to wear long skirts and bans them from wearing sleeveless shirts, blouses, dresses and jeans, while men are required to shave their beards every day and not grow long mustaches. Yalçın said the dress code is a product of the 1982 constitution drafted after a military coup and is "anti-democratic." He said they believed teachers would not "abuse" the lighter dress code if casual dress is allowed, and the current dress code is challenging for teachers especially during the summer where they are forced to wear ties even in hot weather. "Teachers think the dress code is restricting their freedoms and a violation of their human rights," he said, adding that they also believed the abolition of the dress code would boost teachers' self-confidence and motivation.