The tracksuit rule issue now appears resolved. With the consensus of school principles, the thromde has agreed to allow students to wear health and physical education (HPE) uniform in schools on Fridays and Saturdays.
Now that this issue is tackled, it is hoped that the concerns of the thromde to promote the national dress are also addressed. This issue may be confined to the thromde in Thimphu but it concerns all. For in this issue of national dress and physical education attire is the society’s apprehension towards clothes that may be considered comfortable but one, which some policymakers find discomforting. Thromde officials have explained that the decision was made to preserve the national dress, the national identity and, in the face of modernity, such concerns are expected.
But how we balance tradition with modernity is vital. How we teach students to value one’s culture while embracing modernity is also important. Bhutan’s culture, which gives the country its identity, is its strength. It has challenges but it is not so weak that wearing tracksuits in schools should be perceived as a threat.
The focus of our policymakers at all levels should instead be more on what our children are learning in schools, not what they are wearing. Wearing tracksuits in classes do not mean our children are not learning. Just as wearing gho and kira in the playground does not mean our children are not playing sports.
For so long the children are in school, in classrooms or out in the playground, they are still learning. It is in schools that we nurture young minds to become good human beings. It matters little what they wear when these values are being imparted. Wearing tracksuits in classes should not be misunderstood or read as a sign of disrespect.
For education is more than books and sports. It is about bringing up children with values that respect tradition and understand modernity, not about choosing one over the other. Good education is what will help preserve and promote our culture.