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Workforce - Russian MPs target teachers' clothing

Anyone not meeting dress code may be named and shamed

Anyone not meeting dress code may be named and shamed

With the post-Christmas sales well under way, many teachers might take the opportunity at this time of year to refresh their working wardrobe.

But in Russia, the style in which teachers dress is not only a matter for them, or even their school leader, but is increasingly under scrutiny by senior politicians demanding rules on what school staff should wear.

Under plans being drawn up by the parliamentary committee for family, women and children, a set of rules will be imposed on women prohibiting them from wearing skirts that are "too short", necklines that are "too deep" and make-up that is "too bright".

The idea was first announced last summer but has since sparked debate across the country, with some teachers and students recently embracing the idea of fashion shows to display potential uniforms.

According to reports in the official government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, published in the run-up to Christmas, penalties for failing to adhere to the proposed rules could include appearing on a "wall of shame". There is little mention of what dress code should apply to men.

The move to impose new rules on what women teachers wear comes after school uniforms for students were re-introduced across Russia last September for the first time since the fall of Communism. Some schools took the opportunity to introduce a uniform for staff at the same time.

As previously reported in TES, the issue of dress codes for students has also been controversial in Russia after five Muslim girls in the south- west region of Stavropol were excluded for wearing the hijab.

A number of members of parliament have criticised the plan to dictate what teachers should wear, saying it is unnecessary as their behaviour and appearance are already commendable. But supporters have said that unless teachers' conduct and dress is codified, students cannot be expected to behave properly.

Yelena Senatorova, a member of the family, women and children committee, went as far as to claim that some teachers appeared to work part-time at strip clubs and offer "sexual services" on the internet, such were their attitudes to the way they approached their primary jobs.

Teaching unions oppose the move to formalise a dress code but have said they do not expect it to become law, even though it is backed by United Russia (ER), the party most closely associated with president Vladimir Putin.

"I don't think this plan will be realised," Andrei Demidov, co-chairman of the Inter-regional Trade Union for Workers in Education (MPROU)," told TES. "Teachers oppose these plans because it affects their freedom and buying new clothes will lead to higher costs of living."

Mr Demidov accused the committee members in favour of the dress code of making inflammatory remarks to enhance their careers. "They are just interested in feeding the media's desire for controversial news," he said. "This is why our union issued a statement condemning the idea but we have planned nothing else in response."

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