It's not called Januworry for nothing, and for most parents, it can feel like Januworry² considering the staggering costs of back to school supplies.
Parents have highlighted the cost of uniform as being especially steep, and going by the number emails coming through Parent24's Chatback mailbox, we have to agree.
This is what some parents shared with us:
'Totally out of hand!'
"I write to you as a mother of 3, my housekeeper a mother of 4. We spoke about this today; some kids can't go to school because their parents can't afford school clothing.
"December/January stationary, deposits, uniform etc. is too much for the average earner to pay.
"My son's clothing this year was TOTALLY out of hand! The grey pants (dove grey) were R480 per pair! Who affords this!! The cost of work pants are R380!
"I needed to buy 2 pairs, how will he wear 1 for 5 days! The embroidered shirts were R210.00. I can buy 3 plain white shirts for R210.00.
"The badges that used to be bought separately and sewn on are no longer an option because it's directly embroidered onto the shirt which forces us to pay this price.
"We are limited to shops we can buy at and not to mention that the shops DON'T HAVE prices on their items. You have to request prices on arrival. Agreed! Prices for uniforms are totally unacceptable and the quality is nothing to talk about either! Who solves this?"
'It's a huge cost'
"I bought a pair of school socks for R44 a pair, this is absolutely ridiculous.
"The tracksuit that I bought around June last year has deteriorated due to poor quality. It's a huge cost, and I need to buy one every 6 months.An investigation is required in this regard; this abuse needs to stop."
- Anonymous Eastern Cape-based dad
'Uniform prices are killing us'
"Indeed, uniform prices are killing us as parents. What is even worse is that the fees in private schools are so high. You have to buy the uniform from the school, and it is one of the teachers' businesses.
"We had to buy a blazer for my grandson but could not afford one from the school's uniform shop, and we then looked for one online. Guess what?
"We could get three blazers for the price of one from the school. Even when you go to the manufacturers, they tell you "We make for the school, we don't sell."
Why must it be like that?"
'Ripping us off'
"I have found that the prices of uniforms have become more ridiculously expensive over the years.
"What started as affordable purchases of uniforms at your cost-effective local retailer, we are now forced to use these exclusive stores which are ripping us off.
"I enquired on a new uniform for my daughter, who is soon to attend her first year in Grade 8, the costs include:
- school shirt R250
- uniform almost R300
- compulsory school bag R350
"This is apart from school shoes, socks, a blazer and jersey.
"I am currently unemployed and resorted to buying her second-hand uniform. Is education not more important than the uniform? Can the kids not wear normal civilian clothes?
Or even just the affordable grey school pants and white shirts with perhaps the school tie? Even the normal grey skirt would prove to be inexpensive.
"We are being exploited out here. I can barely afford the school fees, let alone to still have to pay for books and stationery, what has happened to the promise of free education, did I miss the fine print?"
'Planning to buy a blazer'
Commenting via the News24 Facebook page, Petros M said: "This issue must be tackled as soon as possible before we are ripped off by these schools."
Another contributor, Vumile V, shared his children's back to school uniform budget via the News24 Facebook page.
"Uniform is very expensive. I bought a school bag for my Grade 3 little one, R450, Jersey R270. I'm still planning to buy a blazer for my Grade 11, R750."
See more comments here:
These complaints have not gone unheard, with the Competition Commission of South Africa (CompComSA) stepping in to monitor exorbitant prices.
The government-appointed CompComSA has received direction from the Department of Basic Education, as well as support and input by the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) and the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) on guidelines to making uniforms more affordable.
These guidelines assert that uniforms be made to be predominantly generic and that only a few, smaller items such as badges and ties carry exclusive markings like the school emblem.
Find the full set of guidelines here: 'Bringing down costs remains the priority': Government to monitor school uniform prices.
Following on from the commissions' guidelines, we've put together a list of retailers selling generic uniform and included their prices.
NB: Items marked with an asterisk indicate where no price was provided or where an item is not sold by a retailer. Prices for ties, blazers and tunics were excluded as these items are not stocked by all these retailers.
How to get proactive
CompComSA's Head of Communications, Sipho Ngwema, has encouraged parents to communicate with school governing bodies going so that uniform becomes less of an expense, urging them to contact the commission where schools are non-compliant.
He told Parent24 that "Parents must continue to engage their governing bodies and insist that they adhere to the guidelines. They must make sure that the contracts are in the best interest of the parents."
He urged parents "If supplies and schools continue to be defiant, they must contact the Competition Commission."
Have you brought up the concerning price of school uniform with your child's school governing body?
See our contact details below and share your story with us.
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