Parents feel the squeeze

2012-01-10 00:00

BACK-to-school marketing gimmicks have been a taunting reminder to parents about the expensive reality as KwaZulu-Natal pupils head back to school tomorrow.

A mother of a 14-year-old Grade 8 pupil from Mlungisi High School, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of her child, told The Witness during her shopping trip that she is battling to afford the bare minimum of school items.

“I am an unemployed single mother and rely on the grant money for the things he needs. Since this is his first year of high school it means that I have to buy everything from scratch. The shirts cost R79, the pants cost R99 and the shoes are R120, which means the grant money doesn’t go far. I know he needs more than one set of each item, but I cannot afford it as I still have to buy stationery as well,” she said.

While stationery is provided at some schools, parents still have to buy items such as calculators and backpacks which can cost anything from R50 to R180 per item. Waltons sales assistant Eric Lefoka said parents should look out for discounts and sales as this will save them a great deal of money.

“We have agreements with schools who order in bulk. We give discounts to account holders. Parents must look out for our January specials,” said Lefoka.

Children who have packed on a few kilograms due to the festive season, no longer fit in their old school uniforms.

A mother of a Grade 4 pupil at Mpumelelo Primary School, whose name is being withheld to protect her child’s identity, said she was horrified when she found out that her son’s uniform was too tight.

“I knew that he had outgrown his shoes, but I was not aware that he had gained weight as well. Lucky I had saved an extra R500 in the school budget,” she said.

KZN Parents Association chairperson Sayed Rajack said parents are suffering due to the exorbitant prices of school items as their children want the most expensive stuff so that their school year can be special.

“Children are very competitive hence they want the best when it comes to school items, which means parents have to pay more. When it comes to school uniforms some schools have colours that are hard to find and this means that parents have to buy material and have the uniform custom-made, which is a big problem. As parents we feel that uniform and stationery manufacturers should not only think about making a profit, but consider our pockets as well,” said Rajack.

National Consumer Forum deputy chairperson Paul Crankshaw advised parents who are purchasing items on credit to be vigilant.

“Parents need to quantify what needs to be bought before going to the shop. They also need to look at second-hand options and discount options. Most importantly, they need to be able to pay back that credit within six months,” he said.


White shirts-R14.99

Boys grey shorts-R16.99

Black/navy Skirt-R16.99





White shirts-R25.99

Boys and girls grey shorts and skirt-R19.99

Boys and girls grey longs R45.99





Long sleeve school shirt-R49.95

School shorts-R45.00

Socks (five pack)-R49.95

Shoes-R79.95 to R180


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