Uproar over uniform prices as Form Ones report for first term

Parents shopping for school uniforms at Nairobi Uniform Center. [George Njunge, Standard]

There is a national outcry from parents over the sharp spike in school uniform prices ahead of the re-opening and admission of Form One students.

Some secondary schools have also defied a directive by Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, instructing principals not to demand unnecessary items from students reporting to Form One.

A look at some of the admission letters reveals huge costs for school uniform, some of which are more expensive than the school fees.

School accounts

A sample of schools’ admission letters seen by The Standard have asked parents to pay uniform money to specific school accounts, a move that may lock out children, whose parents cannot afford the pricey uniform as listed by schools.

For instance, a top school in Nyeri County wants parents to deposit Sh18,985 for school uniform and bedding to the school’s bank account.

Another national girls school in Kitui County instructed parents to pay Sh17,200 per student for school uniform. The school indicates that some of the money will cater for uniform labelling and student’s identification card.

The school also indicated in the Form One admission letter that school fees must be paid in full on reporting day, despite Prof Magoha’s directive that no school should fail to admit students for lack of fees.

Some school heads insist on purchasing the school uniform from the institutions, citing quality reasons. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

A top city school is asking for Sh34,000 for uniform with instructions that parents must buy them from specific shops in Nairobi.

Adidas brand

Another school is selling a school uniform set at Sh24,950. They are also demanding sportswear should be Adidas brand, and a pair of black-laced shoes from Bata.

 “This is exploitation to parents, yet the fees is at Sh35,000. How can a parent be forced to buy blankets, mattresses, shoes from school, whereas one can get them at a cheaper price?” posed Cyrich Wanjeri, an affected parent.

Parents who spoke to The Standard complained that some of the items can be bought in open-air markets at lower prices, but school heads insist on purchasing the school uniform from the institutions, citing quality reasons.

 “For instance, a blouse that schools are selling at Sh600 each, costs about Sh350 in an open market, rubber shoes that parents will buy at Sh1,000 in particular schools would cost about Sh400 and Sh500 for a fleece jacket that schools are charging Sh3,500,” said a parent. 

National Parents Association chairperson, Mr Nicholas Maiyo, said some schools are overpricing the low-quality school uniform adding that schools are creating monopolistic arrangements leading to exorbitant prices of uniforms.

“Parents should buy school uniform where they prefer as long as it matches the school’s specifications,” said Mr Maiyo.

Parents are now calling on the ministry to intervene since they suspect school heads could be colluding with retailers to swindle them.