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All eyes on the pricing of school uniforms

Khanyisile Cele, 7, and Robyn Naidoo, 11, were excited to get their school uniforms and sport kits last week. The Competition Commission says it will continue to monitor the pricing of school uniforms and urged schools to keep uniforms as generic as possible.Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African news Agency(ANA)

Khanyisile Cele, 7, and Robyn Naidoo, 11, were excited to get their school uniforms and sport kits last week. The Competition Commission says it will continue to monitor the pricing of school uniforms and urged schools to keep uniforms as generic as possible.Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African news Agency(ANA)

Published Jan 11, 2022

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DURBAN - THE Competition Commission says it will continue to monitor the pricing of school uniforms and urged schools to keep uniforms as generic as possible.

After investigations into anti-competitive behaviour in the school uniform supply chain, the commission and the Department of Basic Education last year jointly released a circular guiding schools and stakeholders about best practice for procurement.

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The commission says that a survey would be rolled out over the next few weeks to assess the level of compliance.

“The principle governing these guidelines include:

  • The school uniform should be as generic as possible so that it is obtainable from as many suppliers possible.
  • Where deemed necessary, exclusivity should only be limited to a few ‘must’ items that the schools regard as necessary to obtain from preselected suppliers eg. school badge. ¡ Where there are approved suppliers, schools should follow a competitive bidding process when appointing such suppliers.
  • Schools should appoint more than one supplier to give parents more options.
  • Concluded agreements should be of limited duration so that schools can continuously check the market to obtain the best offering for parents.” The commission had, in 2014, launched a probe into price-fixing of school uniforms and kickbacks for schools. The commission said it was now “ready to prosecute and push for penalties against suppliers and schools that engage in anti-competitive conduct”.

Parents, who spoke to recently, said it would be nice for schools to give them the freedom of buying school uniforms at affordable stores. Sindi Gwabaza, of Mariannhill, said she had no choice but to follow the school rules because she wants the best for her 9-year-old daughter.

“The school only gave us two suppliers where we can purchase the school uniforms. I wish local women could be given a chance to supply schools with uniforms,” she said.

Nompumelelo Zungu, of Dannhauser in Newcastle, said buying school uniforms from a specific shop was expensive as they also needed to buy shirts that have a school badge.

“We need to have options on where to buy school uniforms because we all cannot afford the supplier that the school has chosen for us,” she said.

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Nonjabulo Mbulu, of Malukazi, said they purchased uniforms from the school and had decided to start a WhatsApp group with other parents so that they can find a supplier. “The school sometimes has a shortage of sizes of the uniform and it is the only supplier where we can purchase the uniform.”

THE MERCURY

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