KITTED OUT: Tokelo Mosuwe, 10, who will be in Grade 4 this year at Northridge Primary School, shops for his stationery.
Picture: Jacques Naude
African News Agency/ANA
Stationery can be a daunting expense if you don’t do your homework. As children across the country prepare to return to school next week, parents will be facing price hikes that the new school year presents, including the cost of stationery.

Stores have been abuzz this week with parents and children doing last-minute shopping.

Nomvelo Mbenya, whose three children, aged seven to 13, attend Glenstantia Primary School in Pretoria, said the cost of stationery items had been on the rise since 2014.

“I often hear how people complain about school uniforms, but another dent in our pockets which is often overlooked is stationery. Those chair bags, Pritt glues and pastels are now costly."

Some parents said they had observed an increase in stationery prices, but Mecca Stationery, a shop in the Pretoria CBD, said the rise and fall of the rand had an impact on the price of school stationery.

Some schools don't provide stationery, and a parent with a child going to school on Wednesday might find themselves forking out more than R800 on stationery alone.

An average cost taken from a comparison of four schools' stationery list requirements for Grade 1 to Grade 12 classes totalled R950.

Janine Shannon, a mother of a Grade 6 learner at Robert Hicks Primary School, said although her son would be using some of the stationery from last year, the cost this year was higher than it was last year.

“You don’t have to buy everything on the list, but for every grade the children are expected to have different things. The higher the grade, the more expensive the items,” she said.

Another parent, Sheila Lumpur, said she has had to cut down on expenditures to cope with these increments. “Every year I have a budget, but I was shocked that the prices have gone up so much.”

Lebogany Mosuwe, whose 10-year-old son Tokelo attends Northridge Primary School, said back-to-school supplies, particularly stationery, had changed considerably in recent years, and were now marketed as “fashionable” items.

She felt they allowed kids to express themselves, but others argued that they detracted from learning and were a waste of money.

Bidvest Waltons is one of the country’s leading providers of school and office supplies. A quick browse of their website takes you to the My Back2School page, where you can find the “recommended stationery (not school-specific)" for every grade.

If you were to buy all the recommended items for Grade 1 it would come to R1377.

Gauteng Education Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said learning and teaching support material (textbooks and stationery) was budgeted for all schools.

“Schools complete requisition forms based on their individual needs using the allocated budget," he said.”