If you've found yourself wondering whether that long list of required stationery you received is legit, you're not alone.
Following on from the number of emails we receive from parents, we've put together a mock till slip of what some parent's stationery lists look like (feels, and all).
Yes, that is indeed 6 glue sticks, 4 bottles of hand sanitiser and - your eyes are not deceiving you - 9 rolls of toilet paper.
I honestly don't recall taking toilet paper to school?
Seems I'm not alone, as social media has been flooded with parents sharing their financial frustrations, asking others if they too were facing similar struggles.
Commenting via Facebook, one mom wrote: "Why is stationery so expensive!"
In typical South African style, many are maintaining a sense of humour about it.
But the reality is that for many families the costs can be crippling.
'It's the school's responsibility to supply these toiletries'
In one closed Facebook group, a mom had shared that she feels schools have become rather unreasonable with their stationery lists, especially with the inclusion of items like toilet paper and dictionaries.
The same mom said that while her finances allowed for her to purchase stationery without it being a burden, she wondered how other parents, especially those earning a minimum wage, were getting by.
We asked Sue Larkan of Tabansi, who specialises in the laws relating to school issues and advocates for parent's rights, what parents can do if they just cannot afford to buy certain items.
Here's her advice:
The school cannot demand [toiletries] as such - it will obviously assist the school's expenses if parents contributed towards toilet rolls.
In this circumstance, the parent does not need to supply all of this at once, and maybe just one pack per term is a suggestion. The school cannot hold you to ransom for this either.
At the end of the day, it's the school's responsibility to supply these toiletries.
'These demands are not legally binding'
Regarding the matter of toilet paper and office-use paper allowance the Department of Basic Education provides schools with, Larkan told Parent24 that:
Schools, especially our Quintile 4 and 5 schools, receive such low budget to run and maintain their schools, this is my personal gripe as well, hence the high school fees.
Schools are trying to lower their expenditure from their budgets, but at the end of the day, the school is responsible for the hygiene and cleanliness etc. of their property and facilities.
The parent only contributes voluntarily what [they] can. These demands are not legally binding.
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