Parents cry foul as cost of Form One items skyrocket


Ms Catherine Gitau (left) of Patmat Bookshop in Nakuru City sells uniforms to a parent on January 28, 2023, ahead of reporting of Form One students. 

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

As the Form Ones start reporting to new schools on Monday, the transition is proving to be a pain in the flesh for poor parents.

The agony of poor urban parents as they bargain for the items from one shop to another is a clear indication of what struggles they are going through; thanks to the rising cost of living which has hit them hard.

“I want to make sure I save on each item on the long list of school requirements that my daughter has been asked to buy before she is admitted to Tumutumu Girls in Nyeri County,” said Ms Jackline Karobia at a textbook vendor at the backstreet of Kenyatta Avenue in Nakuru City.

She added: “I have decided to buy some of the books at the street vendors because after comparing the prices in the established bookshops the saving per book is Sh100 and with about five compulsory books in the admission letter it means I will save Sh500 which I will convert as her transport to Nyeri.”

Another parent whose son has been admitted to Kakamega High School said he has been forced to forgo some items that he hopes to buy at a later date.

“Why should I buy a new pair of black leather shoes which goes for Sh3,000 and sports shoes at Sh2,500 when I can get them from a second-hand trader at half the price? I don’t see the need of buying three handkerchiefs when one can serve the purpose,” said Mr Shadrack Okello.

He added: “The shopping list can make any parent’s head spin. The price from traders is just abnormal and they are not reducing the prices simply because they know some items are compulsory and parents must buy them anyway.”

Another parent whose daughter has been admitted to Kipsigis Girls in Kericho County said this year’s Form One shopping is the most difficult one for her.

“Form One shopping this year is difficult when you’re on a tight budget. I have been forced to sacrifice going to my hairdresser this weekend until my daughter is admitted to Form One. I thought I had done some little planning but the prices of items I’m getting are shocking,” said Ms Jennifer Ketienya.

Another grandparent complained of high prices for all the school items on the shopping list of his grandson.

Exploit parents

“All the items have exaggerated price. Prices have been increased by more than 50 per cent. I heard one trader speak in vernacular language saying that ‘coffee’ is ripe for harvesting meaning the time to exploit parents is now,” says 65-year-old Ms Bernice Komu.

Some of the traders who are having booming business are not apologetic for the price change on some items that have been lying idle and gathering dust in their stalls.

“As traders, we’re still recovering from the pandemic and parents should support local traders because this helps grow the local economy,” said Mr Dennis Okiring a textbook vendor along Mburu Gichua Road in the town centre.

 “We are also undergoing tough economic constraints and our customers should know that we are also parents besides being traders and we are in the same economic ship during thses hard times,” said Mr Patrick Ngamau second-hand shoe trader.


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