Outrage Over Hike In School Uniforms

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By Thandiwe Garusa

PARENTS are up in arms after school uniform prices skyrocketed this week, leaving most of them unable to afford even basic school requirements.

Schools open on 14 January, but most parents, in a survey conducted by Saturday, felt the charges pegged by the retailers were unjustified.

Other retailers were reported to be demanding payment in US dollars only, forcing parents to find foreign currency first on the black market before making any payments.

One parent, who only identified herself as Mai Ngoni and has a son going for Form One at Howard Mission School in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central province, expressed shock after she was charged $4 000 for a black metal trunk.

“How can a school trunk cost $4 000! Where am I supposed to get that money when I am not even earning a quarter of that money? Uniforms, stationery and groceries are too expensive, how are we going to send children to school?” she asked.

Other parents said they had decided to shop early before another round of increases expected next week when schools are close to opening the New Year.

“But the decision to shop early is of no use as the current prices are beyond our reach. I have no idea on how I am going to send my two children to boarding school. I don’t even have enough money for the school fees yet I am faced with a challenge of looking for more money for school uniforms,” said another parent.

A parent who had a son going for Form One as a day scholar at Prince Edward School in Harare, showed a quotation which had a total of $5 860 from EN BEE Stores.

According to the EN BEE quotation, a school blazer was going for $1 296, tie $144, cap $144, shirt $356, pair of trousers $336, tracksuit $1 200, socks $72, white boxer shorts $144, T-shirt $144, shoes $680, jersey $600 and pull over $744.

Another dejected parent, Tagwirei Gumbo claimed retailers were now increasing prices of school uniforms on a daily basis.

“I was here yesterday (Friday) to buy some stuff for my child. I did not buy all the stuff because the money was not enough and surprisingly I come back today to find out that most prices have gone up from yesterday’s prices,” said Tagwirei Gumbo.

“We are stranded and we do not know how we are going to make things work. We are struggling, some of these guys who sell uniforms are demanding US dollars and we do not have them, this year has started on a very bad note.”