The Competition Commission says it is still pursuing retailers that do not comply with guidelines of the Competition Act regarding prices of school uniforms. It says it is confident that the price of school uniforms will drop over the years.

As parents prepare for school opening this week, they have had to dig deeper into their pockets to ensure that their kids are ready for school.

The Competition Commission says guidelines on school uniforms have been issued to schools. They instruct that uniforms must be generic, each school must have more than one supplier, have shorter contracts and an open bidding process for contracts. It says exclusive items on the uniform must be limited.

Competition Commission’s Sipho Ngwema is confident that this process will yield good results, eventually.

“It is going to be a process, but we are hoping and we are monitoring what is happening. We are hoping that gradually the school uniform must get cheaper because there should be involvement of more suppliers who are then going to come with alternative prices and better quality and that we hope is going to lead to uniform prices gradually coming down.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA, Paul Colditz, says they are monitoring schools to follow the guidelines.

“A lot of advocacy needs to be done, is being done to inform schools and parent communities of the fact that long term exclusive contracts which may lead to higher prices may be unlawful according to the Competition Act. We are seeing according to those reports that prices are declining.”

Chairperson of the National Association of Parents in School Governance, Mahlomola Kekana has appealed for an immediate reduction in the prices of uniforms.

“The issue of costs with this dying economy in our country is really a serious concern but we are appealing to schools not to expect too much. Some schools are asking for the impossible, three different types of school uniforms but in the main let us appeal to the manufacturers and suppliers of school uniforms to really reconsider their pricing.”

Parents say they spend thousands of rands on school uniforms. They are now looking at alternative ways to reduce the financial impact.

“You plan; I think after the first few years, you know how much it costs for each season; so you plan. You can spend anything between R3000 and R4000 on buying uniform for a new school,” says one of the parents.”

Another parent adds: “I’ve bought uniforms for the last 10 years, it’s a lot of money. I’m over it.” This week marks the start of a school year for thousands of learners who are part of the class of 2020.