Parents Decry High Cost of Stationary

By Nelson Manneh

As schools reopen for the new academic calendar, many parents are complaining of the high cost of books and other stationary items for their children. Most parents indicate to this reporter that they may not be able to meet the needs of their children, if the price of stationery is not reduced.

The government in its Education for All Policy, requires every child to go to school or acquire skills but yet the expenditure for this noble initiative is almost but not all, shouldered by the parents. Most parents especially single mothers, strife to meet the needs of their wards or children. The difficult situation sometimes forces many children to drop out of school because they cannot meet the cost of their education.

Teachers are most often instructed by school authorities to send students out of their classrooms for failure of bringing the right books. Readily available text books are sold at a price of D200 or above which many parents say they cannot afford. Some parents who spoke to this reporter said vendors of stationery items have also increased prices.

Ramatoulie Jawara, a 60 -year old woman who was met buying some stationery items in a book shop, said the way things are going will be difficult for a single parent to manage and meet the educational needs of their children; that the cost of uniform has increased making it difficult for most parents to buy not to talk about sewing.

“I wanted to buy two pairs of uniform for my child. But as you can see, I was only able to buy one. The books are also very expensive this time around and I don’t know the cause,” she lamented.

Lamina Fadera, a grade 12 student at the Gambia Senior Secondary School said he was surprised when he saw the price tag attached to the materials.

“Last year, I bought a school bag for four hundred dalasi (D400.00), but this year the same kind of bag is costing seven hundred dalasi (D700.00). Things are very expensive and not all of us can afford it,” he said.

Fadera added that government should try to regulate the prices of all types of materials especially at this time of the year, when most vendors know that the public is in need of stationery materials.

Many parents who spoke to this reporter express their dissatisfaction over the increment in the price of stationery; that if conditions continue to persist, then many children may be forced out of school, because of financial constraints.