Parents and guardians yesterday embarked on a last-minute shopping spree in preparation for the re-opening of schools this week.
A spot check by People Daily in major towns across the country established long queues of shoppers at the bookshops and uniform centres.
Along the busy Biashara Street in Mombasa it was a beehive of activities as parents rushed to shop for school necessities for their children.
Shoe outlets enjoyed brisk business, though majority of those who turned up expressed disappointment at the high cost of items.
Rahab Ngatia, a parent with two children in primary and secondary schools asked the Ministry of Education to give parents time to look for school fees.
“We are just coming from the festive season only to be confronted with school fees, parents need time to settle and organise themselves so the government should not chase away learners who report without fees,’ she said.
Babra Mueni, a uniform seller at the Mwembe Tayari Market in Mombasa also decried the low purchasing power among parents, saying that money of them could simply not afford the cost of school uniforms.
“Many are complaining about the price of uniforms, because they spent all the money during the festive season,” said Mueni.
Parents interviewed said the cost of school uniforms and books was exorbitant.
“The prices are too high, almost double, we are feeling the pinch. I was going to buy some items like uniforms and some few books but I could not afford most of the items,’’ said Cosmas Maithya, a parent.
The parents accused schools of forcing them to buy new sets of uniforms, face masks, sanitisers and text books for their children who begun reporting back yesterday.
The situation was the same in Kisumu town where parents and guardians thronged retail shops to buy learning materials.
Majority of the parents however decried the high cost of the items.
“It has been a tough school calendar year as parents have been paying fees every month and with the cost of basic commodities going up steadily we expect things will be tighter on us further,” said Mary Oriwa, a parent.
In Nakuru County, minimal activities were witnessed, as there were low purchases in bookshops and uniform centres as compared to the previous years when bookshops and uniform outlets recorded booming business.
Parents who visited the stores lamented the high prices of goods coupled with a tough economic patch occasioned by the negative effects of Covid-19.
Dorothy Nyasugo visited Patmat Bookshop to buy some school uniforms and textbooks revealing that the prices had gone up compared to other opening seasons.
She observed with the current economic strain on most parents, affording basic necessities is a challenge as schools reopen.
“There are books that I am supposed to buy and it is expensive, however learning must continue and that is why I am here fulfilling my responsibility as a parent,” said Nyasugo.
On his part John Mburu, Patmat Bookshop General Manager revealed that business had gone down unlike other seasons when schools reopen.
According to Mburu, the change in school calendar, effects of the pandemic have been a contributing factor in the slow business.
“Unlike other New Years, we would have a heavy traffic of parents here, however that’s not the case, parents are only buying basics,” he said.
Mama Ngina Girls Secondary School in Mombasa reopens tomorrow after it was closed last year following students attempt to burn the institution.
Principal Mwanahamisi Omar confirmed all was set for reopening.