Due to overdue complaints in the culture of schools having a preference to where parents should buy a school uniform, the Competition Commission had to mitigate and make a ruling. The tribunal has now imposed new rules for schools on uniform supplies.
The Federation of Associations of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) CEO, Dr Jaco Deacon, says the ruling by Competition Tribunal that parents will no longer be forced to purchase uniforms at specific shops has been long coming.
The decision is as a result of some uniform suppliers and parents’ complaints brought about by exclusive agreements schools have with specific suppliers.
The Fedsas CEO further rejects the culture of branding every specific item of a school uniform. He said schools should allow a competitive fair process that will accommodate other suppliers to participate.
The moment you have your own shop, you are supposed to be cheaper than outside shops. The aim should be to make it accessible and cheaper. Not to make money, but to make it easier for parents and more affordable.
Dr Deacon stated that the commission’s investigation found that exclusive supply agreements of a long duration enable school uniform suppliers to charge customers higher prices and prevent other potential suppliers from entering the market and competing for customer.
The schools are now barred from entering into agreements with particular suppliers for the purpose of supplying specific branded uniforms when other suppliers are left out.
The decision supports the democratic rights of parents to decide on how to spend their money in the interests of their child’s education. Schools can still celebrate their identity with affordable uniforms available from a range of suppliers, Fedsas CEO said.
Fedsas said exclusive supply agreements for school uniforms has an unintentional consequence of restricting access to education.
The tribunal ruling is general, and it applies to private and public schools, Dr Deacon clarified.