Back-to-school shopping is costly

2018-01-24 06:01
PHOTO: sourcedBuying stationery, among other school necessities, become an added burden on wallets.

PHOTO: sourcedBuying stationery, among other school necessities, become an added burden on wallets.

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THE beginning of the new year can be a time of immense financial strain for many parents preparing to send their young ones back to school.

In January many parents’ pockets are “hung over” from the festive season spending and buying uniforms, stationery and lunch box items become an added burden on their wallets.

Echo spoke to parents about their stress and monetary struggles at back-to-school time.

Sthabile Mhlongo from Ashdown said she bought uniforms, stationery and necessities for her son who will be in Grade 2 in December to “avoid the January rush”.

Mhlongo said the stationery list was sufficient as she feels most of the items are a necessity for her son’s education.

“Looking back at Grade 1, by the end of the year [2017] my son had used all the items on the stationery list,” she said.

Mhlongo spent R1 700 on back-to-school shopping, an amount she concedes rises every year.

Mandisa Madiya, whose child is in Grade 1 at an independent CBD school, said back-to-school shopping is costly.

“But I had prepared myself by saving. I paid my child’s fees in December, so I was not really affected because I had prepared.” Madiya added that when she first looked at her child’s stationery list she felt some items were unnecessary.

“But when we did our routine parent visits [when her child was in Grade R] I realised all the items were necessary and whatever my child had not used was given back to us, which is fine,” she said.

She added parents at her child’s school play an active role to ensure it is functional, which includes taking part in the school’s fund-raising efforts. However, for some parents, there are costs that are non-essential and in certain instances schools can help parents spend less on the back-to-school items.

Zothile Nzimande from Imbali Unit J is one such parent who feels the requirement that each pupil provides 12 toilet paper rolls per term is expensive.

“Children leave school at around 1.30pm going on 2pm, and over weekends they are not at school so that does not justify how a child would need so much toilet paper,” Nzimande said.

She further took issue with glue sticks, saying that since her two children attend a government school these should be provided by the school.

Nzimande believes teachers take the glue sticks and give them to their own children.

When it comes to uniforms, she said: “Children are required to have two sets of uniforms which becomes an added cost, where do the schools expect us to get that money from?”

She suggested that schools should allow parents to have uniforms made at a lower cost rather than compel them to buy from expensive suppliers, with the school badge being the only item they have to purchase at a central point.


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