Competition Commission urges schools to adhere to uniform guidelines

The commission says school uniforms should not make it difficult for pupils to receive an education.

Parents get school uniforms for their children ahead of the start of the new Western Cape school year on 17 January, 2018. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Competition Commission has urged schools to adhere to the uniform guidelines aimed at curbing anti-competitive behaviour.

The commission is calling for uniforms to be as generic as possible and obtainable at as many suppliers as possible for exclusivity to be limited to items that the schools regard as necessary such as badges and for competitive bidding to process to be followed.

The commission also wants schools to appoint more than one supplier in order to give parents more options.

The commission says school uniforms should not make it difficult for pupils to receive an education.

Spokesperson Sipho Ngwema says: “The contracts that are valid must also be short-term so that they’re renewable and suppliers can then compete.

“That shows that quality is good standard because if you don’t have competition, one supplier must charge higher prices.”

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As inland public schools across the country reopen for the 2019 academic year, guardians have spoken about how buying new uniforms affects them.

Scores of parents lined up outside uniform and stationery shops for last-minute preparations as the school year begins.

Lines of people lead out onto the pavement outside uniform shops as guardians prepared for the new school year.

Children were trying on school jerseys, blazers and shirts as shop assistants rushed to get different sizes for them.

One woman said that the schools can make it easier for parents.

“It’s going to be easier if the schools can cancel the brands and then it’s going to be easier since we can go to any shop to buy school uniform. It’ll save us lots of time than to come here and stand in long queues.”

Parents say exorbitant prices of specific brands that are required puts financial pressure on them.

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(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)