As learners go back to school the Competition Commission has reminded schools to adhere to guidelines for school uniforms, in an effort to prevent anti-competitive behaviour in the industry.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the watchdog highlighted the government's school uniform guidelines which came to the fore during an investigation last year into anti-competitive behaviour in the school uniform industry.
The investigation was launched in January 2017 following complaints from parents about school uniform suppliers.
Based on a survey of schools, the commission found that most were unaware of the guidelines issued by the Department of Basic Education in 2015, Fin24 reported previously.
Further, the probe found that a number of schools had exclusive contracts with a particular supplier. "These contracts didn't go through a competitive and transparent bidding process," the statement read.
"We engaged all stakeholders including private schools, suppliers, governing bodies, and the government. We agreed on the implementation of school uniform guidelines issued by the government."
The competition watchdog set out the guidelines in the statement:
1. School uniforms should be as generic as possible, so that it is accessible from as many suppliers as possible.
2. Exclusivity should be limited to items that schools regard as necessary to obtain from pre-selected suppliers, for example badges.
3. Schools should follow a competitive bidding process when appointing suppliers.
4. Schools should appoint more than one supplier in order to give parents more options.
5. The concluded agreements should be of limited duration.
- READ: Schools with 'exclusive' uniforms deals are being urged to confess – and may avoid paying fines
Last year the commission signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of School Governing Bodies (Fedsas) to encourage compliance by schools.
The commission has also engaged with private schools on the matter, and the parties have jointly approached the Competition Tribunal, which will hear the outcome of the engagements on February 6, 2019.