Parents approach Competition Commission over school uniform costs

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As the 2024 academic year kicks off, the National Association of School Governing Bodies says ever-green contracts for the supply of school uniforms, are disadvantageous to learners and parents.

The Competition Commission has found itself inundated with complaints from parents regarding the soaring prices of school uniforms.

Matakanye Matakanye, the General Secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, suggests that school governing bodies should leverage their authority to bring about change.

Matakanye says, “Let parents buy uniforms where they can afford them. It must not be exclusively from a particular shop or supplier. We discourage evergreen contracts to ensure parents can go and buy where they can afford…”

Previously, the Competition Commission advocated for specific guidelines to promote accessibility and healthy competition in the procurement of school uniforms.

The suggested guidelines include encouraging schools to have generic uniforms and providing parents with diverse options from various suppliers. The commission also supports the appointment of more than one uniform supplier to foster competition.

Regarding exclusivity, the commission recommends limiting such arrangements to items deemed essential by the school, with only preselected suppliers authorised to provide these crucial items. Additionally, it suggests that exclusive agreements with suppliers have a defined time frame, ideally ranging from 3 to 5 years.

Discussion | Parents approach Competition Commission: Siyabulela Makunga and Dr Eileen Carter