Is ed­u­ca­tion a lux­ury Looshans can’t af­ford?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michele-Lau­ren Hack­shaw

As a newly ex­ited school leaver, I had no idea my par­ents were spend­ing so much, just for the ba­sic back-to-school ameni­ties. Be­fore I was tasked with re­search­ing the ac­tual dol­lar fig­ure at­tached to send­ing kids back to school, I hon­estly be­lieved it was noth­ing more than a triv­ial task. I am now flab­ber­gasted af­ter speak­ing with a num­ber of my fel­low co-work­ers, who are all par­ents.

Well, sum­mer has come to an end, and I now un­der­stand the headache most par­ents would get when sourc­ing back-to-school ne­ces­si­ties.

A few peo­ple in some cases won’t un­der­stand the struggles that par­ents go through when they’re meet­ing the bills that are gen­er­ally high-priced.

Af­ter my own re­search, I gath­ered that ev­ery new school year, par­ents are obliged to spend an av­er­age of twenty five hun­dred dol­lars, gen­er­ally less for pri­mary school stu­dents and more for those at high school. Need­less to say, this av­er­age amount is per child.

Dur­ing my last in­ter­view with the Hu­man Re­source man­ager in my of­fice, I was left gasp­ing for breath as she ex­plained, item by item, the cost of send­ing her daugh­ter to sec­ondary school.

Text­books, ex­er­cise books and work books alone amount to $1,500; then there is sta­tionery which in­cludes ge­om­e­try sets, pens and pen­cils, rulers, erasers, cal­cu­la­tors, etc. which ef­fort­lessly adds an­other $200 to bail out. School bags, lunch kits and pen­cil cases add sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars, even more for “de­signer” prod­ucts that most kids de­mand. Wow!

Let’s not for­get about the most im­por­tant item of all: school uni­forms. Cost­ing less than text­books, yet still pricey at $500 and up.

Uni­forms in­clude over­alls at $60, shirts start­ing at $25 (keep­ing in mind the big­ger the shirt, the higher the price), trousers and shorts at $40, P.E uni­forms at $60, vests cost­ing $25-30 per packet of 2-3 vests plus shoes and socks start­ing at $100 but way more for brand names. Last but not least, school reg­is­tra­tion fees rang­ing from $60 to $125. These are all items I used in school, but I never ex­pected the prices to add up to such an ex­pense.

It’s no sur­prise that par­ents are un­der pres­sure when it comes to meet­ing all those ex­penses, far less for the low-in­come fam­i­lies who are al­ready strug­gling to send their chil­dren to school. Thank­fully, there is some as­sis­tance, lim­ited though it may be, from the gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate so­ci­ety.

The gov­ern­ment agency SSDF is­sues a yearly bur­sary of ap­prox­i­mately $500 to low-in­come fam­i­lies who ap­ply, help­ing to “fill a gap”. Cor­po­rate cit­i­zens such as hote­liers, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion busi­nesses and pri­vately-owned en­ti­ties also see fit to lend a help­ing hand dur­ing a fi­nan­cially strained pe­riod.

I now ap­pre­ci­ate the sac­ri­fices that some par­ents make to put their chil­dren through school.

What a pretty penny to spend, go­ing back to school.

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