A call to action for schools, school governing bodies and parents: Together we can lower the price of school uniform and other learning-related materials

11 Jan 2022

As the 2022 academic year begins, the Competition Commission of South Africa (Commission) urges the school community including – all schools, School Governing Bodies, community structures, parents and government to comply with the guidelines on school uniform. The principle governing these guidelines include:

  • School uniform should be as generic as possible such that it is obtainable from as many suppliers possible;
  • Where deemed necessary, exclusivity should be limited only to a few “must” items that the schools regard as necessary to obtain from pre- selected suppliers e.g. school badge;
  • Where there are approved suppliers, schools should follow a competitive bidding process when appointing such suppliers;
  • Schools should appoint more than one supplier in order to give parents more options; and
  • The concluded agreements should be of limited duration so that schools can continuously check the market in order to obtain the best offering for parents.

The Commission has also published an educational pamphlet on the role that schools, SGBs and parents can play to help lower the price of school uniform and other learning-related material. The pamphlet is available in four languages including: English, Afrikaans, Sesotho and IsiZulu. These documents can be found on the Commission’s website www.compcom.co.za.

The Commission will continue to monitor compliance in this area. This will include a survey that will be rolled out in the next few weeks to assess the level of compliance. Having ran educational and advocacy programs for compliance, the Commission is now ready to prosecute and push for penalties against suppliers and schools that engage in anticompetitive conduct. The Commission is further inviting all schools to sign an Undertaking to Comply with Competition Principles in School Uniform Procurement as a commitment to practice pro-competitive procurement. The Undertaking can be found on the Commission’s website www.compcom.co.za.

The Commission calls on all parents, SGBs, community structures and government to be vigilant and report any form of contravention via email ccsa@compcom.co.za or the Commission’s SMS/WhatsApp line 084 743 0000. Principals in particular must ensure that each parent or guardian is made aware of the choices they can exercise in in purchasing school uniform.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

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