Education Featured

It’s back-to-school season, everyone’s in a rush 

For bookshop sellers, this is a busy time and as a result of the tough economic times, they have started buying secondhand books from parents 

By Beverline Timanoi 

The school reopening week has been characterized by a flurry of activities at supermarkets, bookshops and uniform shops, as many parents make lastminute efforts to shop for their children’s school requirements. 

Some parents, however, do their shopping before the festive season as there is less commotion and prices tend to be somewhat friendly. According to Miriam Mutua, a mother of three in Kitengela, she prefers to do away with her school shopping well before the December festivities kick in. 

“I already did my shopping before Christmas; when you wait for the back-toschool rush, you end up spending more money due to price hikes that come with the high demand at that time. Sometimes, you end up being late for school,” she said. 

However, for Albert Kamau, he does not allow the inconveniences of school shopping to get in the way of a good holiday moment. “Why spoil the holiday mood with school needs that can be dealt with in January?” 

As long as one does proper financial planning, Kamau says, there is no cause for alarm. In any case, I enjoy the adrenaline rush that comes with preparing all my four kids back to school in January.”  

For bookshop sellers, this is a busy time and as a result of the tough economic times, they have started buying secondhand books from parents, which come at a reduced price. 

“We have allowed the trade-in of secondhand books to assist parents who are struggling. We allow parents to bring used books but which are in good condition, for trade-ins,” says Annabel Mwihaki, a bookshop owner in Kitengela. 

Some parents, however, prefer getting new books for their longevity and passing down to younger siblings going through the same school system. However, with the new curriculum, parents have to resort to buying new books due to the differences in content between the 8-4-4 system and the new CBC school system. 

Apart from sales shops, beauty salons and barbershops are also chocked full: Boys get their hair shaved neatly for school, while girls undo the fancy hairdos they had donned during the festive period and go for styles that are acceptable in schools. 

The transport industry has also had its fair share of the backtoschool business boom as parents and schoolgoing children travel. 

Parents with children joining Form One are feeling the extra financial pinch that comes with new admissions. Lawrence Kosencha’s son will be joining Olkejuado High School and aside from the school tuition fee, he had to spend more for other requirements. 

“I have spent more than Ksh30,000 on new uniforms, beddings, books and stationeries. School life in Kenya is becoming too expensive for some of us who are struggling financially. As much as education is important, the government should subsidise the cost of school requirements,” he says. 

In spite of the high prices, parents are praising the early release of results as it has given them more time to do proper planning as compared to back then when they had a week or less to prepare for school. 

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