Let parents, patients freely choose shops

school uniform

A street vendor sells school uniforms by the roadside in Elburgon, Nakuru County. Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria has barred schools from selling uniforms and warned principals against forcing parents to buy the items from selected shops. 

Photo credit: John Njoroge| Nation Media Group

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria has barred schools from selling uniforms and warned principals against forcing parents to buy the items from selected shops. That is most welcome.

Most secondary schools force parents to buy items such as uniforms, books and other necessities for students from specific shops. It is rumoured that the principals or other teachers have a stake in the shop or even own it. Herding parents to the shops, therefore, selfishly benefits them.

Schools’ admission letters sometimes state clearly that the students should report with the former uniform only to be told to buy from them. Worse, the recommended shops sell the items at exorbitant prices.

That is too expensive for the parents, yet they can get the uniforms elsewhere provided they are of the approved colour and design. That would promote the local tailors, most of whom are their family’s breadwinners.

The same case applies to other items, such as calculators, umbrellas and washbasins.

The government must enforce Mr Kuria’s directive zealously to save parents from greedy school administrators who take advantage of poor regulation to make a killing from the sale of uniforms. 

In a related matter, it is also ironic how public hospitals oppress patients. When one is admitted to the hospital and needs things like a basin or toiletries for use during their stay in the ward, they are forced to get them from the premises or specific shops at high prices. This is because the hospital managers want to benefit from the sale.

Also, the doctors usually tell patients to buy medicine from specific chemists, which are owned by them or their friends or relatives. You may find that the medicines are supposed to be given free of charge at the hospital.

This is very inhuman and should stop. Health CS Susan Nakhumicha ought to emulate her colleague Mr Kuria and ensure that patients at public hospitals have the freedom to buy items from outlets of their choice.

Bevarlyne Adhiambo, Migori

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Education CS Ezekiel Machogu has directed that learners transiting to Grade Seven don uniforms for Junior Secondary School (JSS) that are different from primary school. He told school managers to pick the colours and designs of the uniforms.

Due to the prevailing economic hardships, however, there is no need for a new uniform for JSS. That will just impose extra costs on parents. JSS is just a glorified upper primary school section; there is no need to distinguish the students from the rest.

Let the CS also issue guidelines to tame the temptation by private schools to burden parents with higher fees for JSS classes.

Basic education should be universally accessible and affordable, according to Unesco, but ours is likely to widen the gap.

Joseph Katiku Kioko, Nairobi


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