High prices dampen back-to-school preps

Herald Reporters
As parents and guardians gear up for a new school’s term which begins today, many last-minute shoppers, especially for basic requirements, had to contend with high prices from predatory retailers.

Apart from the worrying price hikes, there is also concern that the list of requirements by schools is unreasonably long. Boarding school srequested parents to provide groceries for their children to use during the term with the lists eclipsing Government gazetted fees.

Some parents complained of some schools increasing fees while some demanded foreign currency and groceries from parents against Government directive instructing schools not to raise fees without its approval.

Shoppers crowded the central business district till the late hours of yesterday, as they sought bargains for school items.

However, the high prices dampened their spirits.

Churchill Boys’ High in Harare is charging groceries worth hundreds of dollars from parents.

In a letter to parents from the head, a Mr P. Mugwanda, in possession of this publication, the school is requesting 10kg rice, 10kg mealie meal, 5kg spaghetti, 4kg sugar, 2-litres cooking oil, a case of baked beans, cornflakes, 1-litre peanut butter, 1-litre jam and 1-litre dishwasher.

The headmaster was not answering his mobile phone when contacted for comment.

Goromonzi High School also increased its fees from $800 to $1 500, Knowstics Academy from $10 000 to $15 000 while Herentals in the CBD is charging an extra 40 percent if one is paying using EcoCash or plastic money.

Acting Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Mr Peter Muzavazi said schools should be realistic with the current situation and try to keep fees affordable for parents and called for the ministry and parents to work hand-in-glove so as to map a way forward.

“The expectation is that schools should be realistic with the situation and keep the fees as affordable as possible and at the same time we need a situation whereby we work with parents so that we hear and are able to address their grievances because we do not want a situation where there are strikes,” he said.

Parents who spoke to The Herald yesterday raised concern on what they called inflated prices.

“Prices are changing regularly as retailers stock up uniforms and other school-related materials, leaving us parents with no choice but to buy at high prices,” said Mr Edward Zvandasara, a Chitungwiza resident.

“For some of us, our salary is less than $600 and I have more than two children going to school,” said Mr Zvandasara.

“Retailers expect us to buy expensive materials, for example, a four-quire counter book ranges from $44 to $48, and the school expects us to pay school fees, buy groceries and bus fare.

Another parent, Mr George Kunzekwenyika of Tafara, said he was worried about the transport costs for his children.

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