SEREMBAN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - After weeks of speculation, Malaysia's Education Ministry has confirmed that students enrolling in Form Six or pre-university will be allowed to wear traditional outfits or other apparel as part of their school dress code when they begin the new term in a fortnight.
Students will also be allowed to wear batik attire to school under a move by the ministry to "re-brand" Form Six.
Education Ministry director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof said schools can no longer compel Form Six students to wear a standard uniform.
Male students will be allowed to wear light-coloured shirts and slacks to school, but these should not have floral or other designs.
"Although they are free to choose the colour of their shirts, these should not have designs other than stripes or checked designs which are fine," he said in a directive to all schools.
The slacks should be ankle-length and not tight.
They would also be allowed to wear belts but the buckles cannot be more than 5cm in size.
Although it was not stated in the directive, students can still wear their uniforms.
Dr Khair said despite the flexibility under the new rule, students are prohibited from wearing any attire made of denim material.
He said apart from baju kurung, female students will be allowed to wear long pants and two or three-piece pant suits.
They can also wear blouses with sleeves, maxi dresses and skirts which were lower than the knee level. Jeans, cargo pants, shorts and leggings are banned.
"The students will not be allowed to wear t-shirts when they attend classes," he said, adding that female students would not be allowed to don tight attire.
Boys will be required to wear shoes and socks while the girls can only wear shoes that cover their feet.
Slippers, clogs and sandals are out.
As for outdoor activities, the students are encouraged to wear long pants or track bottoms and short or long-sleeved t-shirts.
"The t-shirts they wear should not have political, violent, vulgar or any negative images," he said.
The move to do away with the uniform for pre-university students has not been welcomed by most of the public.
In a poll by The Star Online, many believed the decision would not have any relevant impact on the overall standard of education.
Facebook user Stephanie Ha said that the move was not a good idea as students, especially girls, will waste their time thinking of what to wear.
"This will also lead to a sense of loss of identity and sense of belonging to their school," she said.
Another Facebook user, Cecilia Thomas, questioned how the move would help with the students' education.
"There will be extra expenses for families because students would want to impress their friends," she added.
Grace Williams said the move would create a divide between the rich and poor students.
"The rich will try to show off with their expensive dresses and the poor will suffer from an inferiority complex.
"This will directly affect their studies,'' she said.