Big changes on the cards for South African school uniform prices: report

Competition Commission investigations into the R10 billion school uniform industry has found anti-competitive behaviour between a number of schools and uniform suppliers.

Speaking to The Star, Competition Commission spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said that the investigation was at an advanced stage and that an announcement would be made in the coming weeks.

The Commission’s findings are expected to reduce the cost of school uniforms countrywide, after it was found that a number of schools have entered into exclusive agreements with a single supplier, limiting accessibility and driving up prices.

According to Ngwema, some of the findings so far include:

  • Over a third of private schools and former Model C schools were found to have exclusive agreements with school uniform suppliers. Of these, 87% of private schools and 53% of former Model C schools have just one exclusive agreement.
  • The majority of schools which have entered into exclusive agreements for the supply of school uniforms had not done so through open tenders across all provinces.
  • These contracts had existed for a number of years, with the earliest contract being made in 1974.

The Commission is also likely to enforce a circular issued by the Basic Education Department in May 2015 which stated that school uniforms should be as generic as possible, so that that they could be obtainable from as many suppliers as possible.

Read: These are the 20 most expensive schools in South Africa in 2018

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