By Kim Tae-jong
Middle and high schoolgirls’ competition to shorten their skirts in line with easier dress codes is triggering a controversy over whether school desks should be modified to block the sight of their legs in classrooms.
In the past, under tighter school regulations, schoolgirls were forced to maintain their skirts’ length long enough to keep the hemline from rising too much above their knees.
But hemlines are shortening as liberal superintendents at municipal and provincial education offices have pushed for ordinances to liberate students from strict dress codes.
Gangwon Province Office of Education is looking to have desks with boards attached to the front of them supplied to all secondary schools in the eastern province so that schoolgirls’ legs cannot be seen from the front.
The education office’s plan is drawing criticism from conservative teachers’ groups that claim what’s necessary is not such a barrier but a tougher dress code to keep schoolgirls’ skirts longer.
The education office plans to spend about 820 million won to replace the desks with new ones from the upcoming fall semester. The move is designed to help both teachers and students avoid uncomfortable situations due to the shortened hemlines.
“As skirt hemlines have become shorter, many schoolgirls find it uncomfortable to sit on a chair,” Park Jae-seok, an official from the education office, said. “The blocking boards also reflect the request of teachers who want to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. We hope it will consequently help teachers and students focus more on classes.”
Waste of money?
But the Korean Federation of Teachers Association (KFTA) denounced the move, arguing it is a waste of money and a proper guideline is rather required to promote longer skirt lengths.
“What we need is to promote longer skirt lengths by adopting stricter dress codes,” said Kim Dong-seok, a spokesman for the KFTA. “The education office is now neglecting its duty to properly educate students.”
The shortened hemlines are a problem for teachers as well as students, Kim said, citing a recent survey result.
According to the survey, most teachers said hemlines are now 10-15 centimeters shorter than in 2000. And 85 percent of surveyed teachers agreed on stricter rules to regulate the skirt lengths.
“Shortened hemlines can make female students vulnerable to crimes, and most importantly it’s not the proper dress code for students from an educational point of view,” Kim said.
To properly regulate them, Kim suggested teachers should be given stronger rights to prevent students from shortening skirts too much, which is neglected in the process of protecting students’ basic human rights.
여학생들의 치마 길이 논란
완화된 복장 규제와 맞물려 중고등학교 여학생들의 치마 길이가 경쟁적으로 짧아지고 있는 가운데, 학생들 책상에 가림막을 쳐야 하느냐 하는 문제로 논쟁이 뜨겁다.
강원 교육청은 관내의 모든 중고등학교 여학생들의 책상에 판자 등을 붙여 학생들의 다리가 교단에서 보이지 않도록 할 방침이다.
하지만 이 같은 계획은 보수적인 교수 단체들로부터 반발을 사고 있다. 반발의 핵심은 필요한 것은 가림막이 아니라 학생들 치마 길이를 단속할 복장 규정이 필요하다는 것이다.
교육청의 계획대로다면, 8억 2000만원의 예산이 소요될 것으로 예상되고 있고, 빠르면 다음학기부터는 가림막이 있는 책상이 보급될 예정이다.
하지만 한국 교총은 이 같은 계획을 예산 낭비라고 비난하며, 치마 길이를 규제할 적절한 규정이 필요하다고 이야기 하고 있다.
교총이 실시한 설문에 의하면, 대부분의 교사들이 학생들의 치마길이가 2000년에 비해10-20 센티 정도 줄었다고 말하고 있으며, 85%의 교사들은 치마 길이 규제에 찬성한다고 한다.