Thailand’s Education Ministry is considering changing or even abolishing polytechnic college uniforms in a bid to rein in gang violence between students.

Authorities have for years struggled to control rivalries between college gangs that have resulted in injuries and even deaths.

Khaosod English reports that the decision to focus on uniforms was made at a meeting between Education Ministry officials and college directors this week.

“The meeting has concluded that fights among students are not caused by personal problems, but by issues between colleges,” Education Minister Admiral Narong Pipattanasai.

“So, we had the idea to change the uniform regulations of polytechnic students to be the same across the country. We will choose between two options: either everyone will be able to dress in private clothes, or everyone will wear the same uniform.”

All third level students in Thailand are required to wear a uniform, usually a white shirt with black trousers or skirt.

In May, authorities proposed setting up military run “prep camps”, where students could mix with their peers from rival colleges and get to know one another. This strategy has been used in the past, with little success.

It’s clear, however, that authorities need to do something. The latest student gang violence death came just last week, when a 19-year-old male was shot dead near Dusit Polytechnic College in Bangkok.

In September last year two students were shot dead and another seriously injured in suspected college gang violence.

The Thai junta is putting much of the onus on college directors to control student behavior within their institutions, threatening temporary closures or even permanent closures if the violence persists.

“This time, the Ministry of Education is serious. If the administrators do not take care or pay attention to their students, they will lose their licenses for real,” Admiral Narong said. “This is not just a threat.”

This article first appeared on Asian Correspondent

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