NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 27 – The holiday season has proven to be very difficult for most Kenyans especially for parents preparing their children for the new school year incurring additional costs for fees, uniforms and textbooks.,
Parents who had to shelve plans to head up-country for Christmas due to high transport costs, are now finding themselves in yet another tight situation of budgeting for the coming year’s school expenses.
Simon Gichuru a father of four was shopping at a Nairobi uniform retail store on Moi Avenue on Tuesday and lamented the hiked school uniform prices and school fees in recent months.
“The fees structures have almost doubled. Issues to do with transport have also gone up by about 30 percent. For school uniforms as opposed to last year’ what we were buying at Sh500 is now going for between Sh750 and Sh850,” he said.
Gichuru who is an accountant by profession said as a result of the high costs, he has had to move two of his children from a private school in Karen to a public school in Limuru to cut on expenses.
He said fees for one of his daughters in Limuru was reviewed to Sh35,000 for this year’s first term compared to Sh20,000 for the same period in the previous year.
Some schools have already had to increase their fees by 50 to 70 percent for next year.
However, for uniform supply stores this season has not been any easier, with some seeing a marked decline in the number of customers shopping for the new year.
Though most of the rush of parents looking to make last minute purchases will come on Sunday and Monday before 3rd January hits, Eric Kasavuli a sales person at the school uniform store on Moi Avenue said prices are the ultimate factors to determine what customers will buy for their children.
“Last year we had so many customers but this year the prices have gone up and so many customers are complaining. There are some who come to confirm prices and they say they are very expensive and then they just leave,” he said.
Having worked at the store for two years, Kasavuli has also noticed fewer customers buying in bulk, opting for essential items and deciding to complete uniform sets elsewhere.
School Outfitters co-partner Kanti Haria argues that the higher prices have come about due to the harsh economic times having an effect on the production costs.
“Uniform prices changed quite a bit because of the global increment. I have kept a lot of stock. Most of our customers know how to budget for books, fees, uniforms. I think they are ready for it,” he said.
Haria was confident business would keep at a nominal rate given the amount of time his family has been in the uniform business in Kenya, when his father set up the shop in Nairobi in 1934.
Gichuru was not so optimistic for the coming year, and instead chose to adopt a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to the possibility of lowering the cost of living.
“You have to afford food in the house and pay rent. Fuel prices are going up by the day. It is just a means of trying to see if life is going to get any easier, but from the way things are going, I think only God will save us.”