School expenses haunt parents after festive season

Two days to the end of holidays for primary and secondary schools, both students and their parents have crowded shopping centres over the week-end to shop as they prepare for reporting to school on Monday.
Students buying books at Librarie Caritas ahead of the start of the new term tomorrow. The New Times/Timothy Kisambira
Students buying books at Librarie Caritas ahead of the start of the new term tomorrow. The New Times/Timothy Kisambira

Two days to the end of holidays for primary and secondary schools, both students and their parents have crowded shopping centres over the week-end to shop as they prepare for reporting to school on Monday.

Pre-primary, primary, and high school will open tomorrow, an event which is making the first week-end of the year a busy one.

A notice of the State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Mathias Harebamungu, had on December 31 last year reminded parents of the school calendar, according to which, January 6, is the kick-off for over a 28-week-period the students will spend at school this year.

Harebamungu reminded of the transport arrangement, which is such that the students in boarding schools of Southern and Western provinces have to show up to their schools on Saturday while the City of Kigali, the Northern and the Eastern Province have to board today.

Thus, just after the New Year celebrations which saw people buying food stuff, season greetings and other new gifts, encroaching on shopping expenses for scholastic materials was likely.

Librairie Caritas, a book stationary in the Kigali business hub, was yesterday filled to capacity, with parents and students buying dozens of notebooks, exercise books, and mathematical sets among other supplies.

Augustin Mukundabana, father of two children at primary school, was buying 40 notebooks that were requested by their school.

“At every start of the school business, I spend around Rwf 100,000 in school materials for each child. This becomes a challenging time as we come from festive seasons which are also financially demanding,” he said.

Another shopper, Jean Marie Vianney Mutesa, had come for six books for his two children. That cost him Rwf 50,000. For his children, he spends around Rwf 400,000 at the beginning of the year, including school fees.

“Scholastic materials are becoming very expensive these days. We would like to have the schools buy books our children would need at school so that we can include the cost in the school fees. That way schools would charge us fair fee,” Mutesa said.

Hilarie Ntawurishira from Nyamagabe District has a daughter who studies in Kigali and she has to buy materials worth Rwf 50,000 every beginning of the year.

“The sellers here arrogantly increase prices simply because it’s school time. Someone in our local market was saying she only works one week a year and that’s during the start of school,” she said.

Planning ahead

While most of the parents remember shopping a day after New Year celebration, Claudine Ufitingabire challenged them to plan ahead and to save for school instead of being distracted by Christmas and New Year.

Ufitingabire pays over Rwf 150,000 for school materials of each of her two children who go to Saint Paul International School in Remera, besides Rwf 130,000 of school fees.

“My husband deals with other things. For me, I know I have to cater for children’s school fees. I may avoid buying things I like on Christmas but I save for this purpose,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has requested transport companies to stick to the usual prices of transport as students go back to school.

 

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