Back to school fi­nan­cial blues

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - METRO - CHELSEA GEACH [email protected]

BACK to school means back to harsh fi­nan­cial re­al­i­ties for many par­ents as they pre­pare for the start of the school year on Wednes­day.

Many Grade 1 chil­dren will need a brand-new school uni­form, bag, shoes, sta­tionery and books as they be­gin their for­mal school­ing, while older pupils will need new text­books and big­ger uni­forms.

With the school year start­ing early, many par­ents have not had time to re­cover from fes­tive sea­son ex­penses yet and are strug­gling to find the money for back-to-school ne­ces­si­ties.

Aleyzia van Rooy spent the week­end bar­gain-hunt­ing to kit out her 6-year-old daugh­ter Gabrella, who was start­ing Grade 1 at Holy Cross.

“Ev­ery­one knows in Jan­uary you’ve just had Christ­mas, peo­ple are low on cash,” she said. “If you’re only in Grade 1, why do you need so much sta­tionery? It’s ridicu­lous. Stuff is ex­tremely ex­pen­sive.”

Van Rooy plans to man­age the costs by split­ting them with Gabrella’s fa­ther and shop­ping for dis­counts.

“It’s too ex­pen­sive alone,” she said. “I’ll try to get stuff on spe­cial. The blazer alone is R950. I’ll buy that later, in time for win­ter – in Jan­uary, it’s not go­ing to hap­pen.”

Some re­tail­ers are cap­i­tal­is­ing on the Jan­uary pinch for par­ents, with Sho­prite even mar­ket­ing a spe­cial of a ba­sic school uni­form for R100 in cer­tain stores.

Western Cape Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment (WCED) spokes­woman Bron­agh Ham­mond said par­ents should bud­get in ad­vance for the school ex­penses that ar­rive ev­ery Jan­uary.

“Par­ents are well aware that they need to plan for ad­di­tional ex­penses in Jan­uary,” she said. “Schools have never opened af­ter pay­day in the past, so the ear­lier date does not af­fect this.”

How­ever, the WCED re­alises it’s a tough time for par­ents to af­ford big ex­penses.

“We are ob­vi­ously aware of the fi­nan­cial con­straints we are all un­der dur­ing this month, and through­out the year,” Ham­mond said. “We ask that schools take this into con­sid­er­a­tion when de­ter­min­ing the needs of the school, tak­ing into ac­count the com­mu­nity it serves.”

The WCED does not spec­ify any rules for what uni­forms school re­quire in dif­fer­ent in­come com­mu­ni­ties. Uni­forms are de­ter­mined by the school gov­ern­ing bod­ies.

“Prefer­ably, school uni­forms should be as generic as pos­si­ble such that they are ob­tain­able from many sup­pli­ers,” Ham­mond said.

Var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions also link up with schools in our poorer com­mu­ni­ties to as­sist with uni­forms, if re­quired.”

DAVID RITCHIE African News Agency (ANA)

MANY par­ents and their chil­dren flocked to School & Leisure in Ron­de­bosch to pur­chase school clothes for the up­com­ing school year. |

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