Causes for parents’ and pupils’ apparent dissatisfaction with the school uniforms in two selected secondary schools in Botswana, namely Ledumang and Gabarone Secondary Schools were investigated. In Botswana, school uniforms are compulsory in all government secondary schools (Internet, Ledumang Senior Secondary School:1). In the year 2003, approximately 160,690 pupils attended secondary schools in Botswana in the 232 secondary schools at the time (Internet, Ministry of Education:1; National Development Plan 9, 2003:287, 288). Weitzel (2004:13) defines a school uniform policy as a policy that states what the pupils must wear and a school dress code policy as a standard of “aesthetic appearance” stating what the pupils are not permitted to wear while at school. It is general practice for the secondary school uniforms to be chosen by the Parents’ Teachers Associations (PTA) or School Board of Governors at a specific school (Corbin, 1999:1; Botswana Education Act, 1967:4). School uniforms are currently supplied by various retailers such as K.M. Dressmaking in the Bontleng mall in Gaborone; Woolworths, Kopano Stores, Cash Bazaar, Ackermans, and Pep Stores as well Taku-Taku that stock the black flat shoes and socks. Parents or guardians are usually advised where to buy the school uniforms. At present there is free trade and lack of quality standards for textiles in Botswana: no quality assurance exists for school uniforms. As at the time of this research, the BOBS (Botswana Buro of Standards) draft was still at an embryonic stage. School uniform manufacturers therefore due to free trade, may buy any fabric to produce uniforms as opposed to definite SABS standards that exist for school uniforms in the Republic of South Africa. The concern then is that of consumers who already experience financial constraints may be negatively affected by school uniforms of inferior quality. Inferior quality may contribute to frequent requests for replacement of school uniforms by needy pupils. Apart from problems that may be related to the use of textiles of inferior quality (Kincade, Giddings&Chen-Yu, 1998:84), dissatisfaction with school uniforms may be caused by the psychological meanings attached to clothes (Dittmar&Cox, 1995:239), for example objections to the style and color of chool uniforms as well as a psychological objection to prescribed dress and limited choice in general. Due to personal experience as a teacher and a notion that dissatisfaction with school uniforms exists, it seemed necessary to investigate parents’ and pupils (girls) satisfaction/dissatisfaction with girls’ school uniforms to identify existing problems. This will enable the researcher to suggest amendments to improve the situation. Data was collected through structured questionnaires. The respective Parent Teacher Associations (PTA’s) were involved (n=10). to complete a questionnaire that contained questions pertaining to quality standards used, school uniform selection procedures and general monitoring processes. PTA members were also asked to comment on pupils’ expectations and satisfaction with school uniforms. Parents/guardians and pupils in forms four and five were recruited for participation (n=105): they filled in a second questionnaire jointly. Questions evolved around their buyer behavior regarding school uniforms; their use of extrinsic and intrinsic quality cues to judge the quality of garments; expectations regarding the durability and performance of the school uniforms and problems experienced with school uniforms. The questionnaires primarily provided quantitative data that was analyzed through descriptive statistics. A few open questions were included to allow respondents to express their views about existing uniforms without much limitation and to provide opportunity for suggestions to improve problem surrounding their school uniforms. The results showed that the majority of parents and pupils always used certain intrinsic and extrinsic quality cues during the pre purchase evaluation of school uniforms. Intrinsic cues included aspects relevant to fit, while extrinsic factors referred to the appearance and texture of the fabric, the service of the supplier, neatness of construction and the functioning of the fasteners. Although up to 50% of the respondents indicated that they always consulted the labels of school uniforms for specific information (specifically colorfastness, care instructions, brand) this information was unfortunately not always present. Responses indicated that extrinsic cues were more often used as an indication of quality than intrinsic cues. Dissatisfaction with school uniforms was attributed to problems that relate to textile of inferior quality, poorly constructed garments as well as fit problems: color fading, variation in the color at point of purchase, loose buttons and unfinished seams were reported. The fact that the majority had to do some repairs to uniforms within the first six months, indicate that urgent measures are required to deliberate and set definite quality standards for the manufacturers and suppliers. In terms of the style of school uniforms, respondents complained that uniforms were not suitable for winter, that they would like some leniency, i.e. having a choice of what to wear (skirts or trousers or dresses). Responses indicated that respondents’ expectations regarding how long school uniforms should last, were not unrealistic. PTA members of both schools were unfortunately not aware of the non-existence of standards for school uniforms. Nor were they aware of the problems that parents and pupils experienced on a daily basis. Although parents’ view regarding the suitability of the school uniforms did not coincide with the views of their daughters, certain problems can be overcome through well-formulated quality standards and some lenience in terms of what pupils are allowed to wear. Results were discussed within the systems perspective, which clearly indicated that although parents and pupils were not totally dissatisfied with school uniforms, certain elements of the school uniforms required urgent improvement. Collaboration with the SA Buro of Standards that already has quality standards for school wear in place, was suggested
Dissertation (MConsumer Science)--University of Pretoria, 2008.