School costs ‘madness’

2020-01-15 09:02
Ava-Leigh Wirth (6) goes shopping for some stationery in preparation for her first day of Grade 1 in Prestbury Primary School.PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

Ava-Leigh Wirth (6) goes shopping for some stationery in preparation for her first day of Grade 1 in Prestbury Primary School.PHOTO: Moeketsi Mamane

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Four reams of paper, three sets of rulers, two boxes of glue sticks, a pad of coloured cardboard and … a bottle of dishwashing liquid.

Some parents may see the school holidays being over as a relief, but the back-to-school buying has them complaining about having to fork out thousands of rands for uniforms and stationery.

Parents have complained of having to buy multiples of items like erasers, sharpeners and scissors — often with the brand name stipulated on schools’ lists.

Schools are even asking for new items even when last year’s batch of dictionaries, exercise books and half-used boxes of pencils and crayons are still usable.

Lerato Chaka, whose son starts Grade 3 today, has spent R1 200 on stationery like crayons, flip files and paintbrushes before even buying books and writing pads. Her son’s school has asked for two homework bags, four boxes of tissues and two tubs of empty ice-cream containers.

“Nobody warned me that I’d have to spend so much on his school,” she said.

Karen Backenberg said she has had to buy a bottle of dishwashing liquid, detergent and a roll of black bin bags as part of her daughter’s pre-primary school stationery list.

That list also included six packs of sanitary wipes, four rolls of toilet paper, an apron and a box of latex gloves.

Marc Hauptfleisch said stationery for three children, still in primary school, was R2 200. “And that’s without counting uniforms and so on. It’s madness.”

Lorraine Lolly Hardman said she forked out R1 500. “And we weren’t allowed to purchase the stationery ourselves. We had to give the money to the school so they could purchase it.”

Rachel Manser said her child’s school asked for whiteboard markers and erasers. The entire haul came to R500.

Nasreen Ally’s child in Grade 1 needed 32 books. “It’s crazy. You’d think the kid is going to varsity.”

CEO of the Governing Bodies Foundation, Dr Anthea Cereseto, sympathised with parents, and called on schools to give parents some leeway in these tough economic times.

She explained that public schools sometimes had to rely on parents buying stationery so the schools themselves could ensure that money was spent in other essential areas.

“Schools have to be realistic not to ask for things that are unnecessary and to maybe allow children to bring things as the year goes on so parents don’t have to buy everything for January.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  back to school
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