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Parents prepare children for new school term
In preparation for the September school term, parents have begun to purchase school books, stationery and uniforms for their children. They are spending as much as $1800, with some parents with more than one school-age child shelling out up to $8,000. On Friday, booksellers said they had noticed parents were not waiting for the last minute rush. Instead, they were opting to buy their books early.
RIK’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Joycelyn Bodden said: “People are shopping. They are shopping earlier this year. There are some who like the last-minute rush. But parents are getting their children ready for school. At times, the bad weather keeps them back.” An employee at RIK Queen Street, Port-of-Spain branch, said the number and type of textbooks that are purchased is dependent upon the Ministry of Education’s assistance.
He said: “Some of the parents are getting books from the schools. So they are only buying what is absolutely necessary. I think people just want their children to have their books in time for school. Some of the parents are not waiting on the Ministry. They are purchasing every book on the booklist. People want their children to get a sound education.”
Quizzed on the amount parents were spending, he said: “A primary school child booklist ranges from $800. A secondary school student fetched $1800. A Mathematics (secondary) text book costs about $140 to $160. An English textbook costs about $130. to $150. A Mathematics (primary) text book cost from $68. to $120. An English textbook cost about $68 to $110 It is dependent upon the level. You have Infants, First Year and Standard Five.”
At Ishmael M Khan’s bookshop, on Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, senior supervisor Zorina Mohammed said parents were purchasing books. She said: “The trend is people are buying exactly what they need. They are not buying fancy stuff. Sales are normal compared to other years. But people are definitely getting their children ready for school.”
She added: “A primary school child takes about $800. while a secondary school child takes about $2500. including uniform. A primary school Mathematics text book costs about$100. while an English textbook costs about $120. The lower the class, the cheaper the price. A secondary school child booklist costs about $1800 to $2600.” Knapsacks, which are quite popular and decorated with cartoon characters, ranged from$64.95, $80, $105. to $210.
Used text books for single mothers, low income earners
Manning his books at Charlotte Street, Port-of-Spain, used textbooks vendor Oba Oliver said he noticed people were shopping for back-to-school items. He was proud his business was catering to more single parents and low income earners. “I have been helping my mother since I small. I on my own for about 15 years.”
Oliver said: “People seek us out. Some of the parents cannot afford to buy the books in the bookshops. So they buy books on the outside. Once it is in good condition. No set of “dog ears.” No set of scribble. You are getting the same information from a brand new textbook. The used books assists single mothers. Some of them working Cepep. They don’t have much money.” Quizzed on sales, he added: “It is good. When the Ministry say they are giving books, people does pull back a bit. But it pick up. You can make about $1,500 on a good day.
He offered some prices. Oliver said: “A Mathematics text book can go from $80 to $140. An English book from $150. to $195. If a parent plan to spend $1500. on books, they could get it for $1000. They would save about $500 for other things like shoes and uniforms.” His strategy was “paying more than one/third” for the textbooks from his suppliers. He said: “If a bookshop is paying $60. I would pay $70. You have to spend a little more. But I does make it back.”
Among those getting their children’s supplies were Yolanda Felician, who was accompanied by her three children Tamika, Shanika and Michael. She said: “I don’t like the last minute rush. I am spending $600. on each child. I am buying what I can afford. They would get the rest from the school. As times goes along, I would get more books for them.” Since Beverly Andrews’ son attended pre-school, it would cost her about $400. to outfit him.
Guardian designer/sub editor Dennis Allen said it would cost him about $8,100 to get his two sons Irian and Taye ready. He said: “I spent about $1800 on textbooks for Taye alone. It’s a huge chunk of money. I have to uniforms and school shoes. I have a Form One and Standard Five.” Although consensus was parents were not waiting for the last week in August, Allen begged to differ.
“They are late. It would mean they have already missed two month ends. Some people have to pay for summer camp. Some people do uniforms one month and some do books on another month. If you are going to wait until next week, you are not going to get your full booklist. The first Monday in September should not come as a surprise.”
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