VOCATIONAL students are being ordered to remove their uniform badges in a bid to curb fighting between rival school gangs. The education ministry issued the nationwide ruling after schools failed to stamp out brawling among teenagers.
Officials hope a generic uniform of white shirt and black or blue trousers will break down the enmity between pupils by making it hard to identify which schools they belong to.
Vocational students have for years had a reputation for fighting. There have even been running street battles involving the police.
Gang leaders maintain that they are defending the honour of their schools. New students are pressured to join their gangs and then chllenged to pick fights as part of an initiation ritual.
Teachers and police have attempted to crack down on the problem by stepping up school patrols and waiting at bus-stops with their students after school.
Minister Somsak Prissananunthakun has threatened to close down the worst private schools, transfer students elsewhere and move administrators if they fail to deal with the problem.
Police are also to be brought into schools to inform students of the firearms regulations. Last year, a boy was dragged off a bus, shot and his body dumped outside his school. Troublesome students from opposing gangs have even been sent off to an army boot camp to learn to get on together.