Tag: BTS

Source: Cape Talk

Education law specialist Sue Larkan says parents aren’t legally obligated to purchase back-to-school stationery from a specific supplier or brand.

Larkan is the founder of learner rights group Tabansi, which assists parents and pupils with school disputes.

She says parents can’t be forced to buy stationery from a specific brand prescribed by a school.

Some families are facing difficult financial circumstances and may not be able to afford expensive stationery brands.

Larkan adds that some households have to purchase new stationery for more than one child.

She does warn, however, that certain stationery brands may not last as long or have the same quality.

“Schools are demanding stationery lists. That either the parents buy the packs through the school or they buy certain brand name products, which can be rather expensive.

“There’s no legal binding on a parent to do that at all … A parent can ask for the stationery list and go buy it wherever they want to.

As long as the children have got their stationery and the correct exercise books … they can buy wherever they like.”

At the same time, Larkan advises that parents are not legally obligated to provide toiletry supplies such as toilet rolls, tissues, or soap.

She says schools are responsible for hygiene and cleanliness, and they should factor toiletries into their budgets.

While parents are welcome to volunteer what they can, they can’t be forced to shoulder the burden of toiletry supplies.

“They cannot mandate it … there is no legal forcement on a parent to supply that. The school is responsible for hygiene and sanitation.

“The schools are trying to use that budget on something else, and bring the responsibility back on the parents shoulders.”

Start of school year delayed

By Liam Ngobeni for IOL

Public and private schools will only reopen officially on February 15.

Addressing the media on the start of the 2021 school year, Deputy Minister of Basic Education Reginah Mhaule said the calendar for schools had been revised to move back-to-school from January 13 to January 27, and was now being moved to February 15.

After consultations on Tuesday and Wednesday with the Council of Education Ministers, the Heads of Education Departments Committee, the national School Governing Body associations, teacher unions, learner formations, principals associations, as well as the national associations representing independent schools and learners with special education needs, it was decided to delay the opening for another fortnight.

While state schools and those which follow their calendar open on February 15, when exactly private schools open depends on their term calendars. However with many having already opened, they plan to move to online teaching.

“Given the pressure experienced by the health system in the past few weeks, occasioned by increased Covid-19 infections which has led to the second wave, the Council of Education Ministers in conjunction with the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet, has taken the decision to delay the reopening of both public and private schools,” Mhaule said.

For public schools, and private schools which follow the four term calendar, the idea is that management teams will be back at school on Monday, January 25, with teachers on Monday, February 1 and learners back on Monday, February 15.

“Schools will use the time (before learners return) to finalise outstanding matters, regarding admissions, especially the unplaced learners in certain cases.”

Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa executive director Lebogang Montjane, said that as with last year, its schools would recommend hybrid teaching and learning, like it did last year during the first wave, with private schools remaining open, but remotely.

Mhaule told the media briefing that the Council of Education Ministers took the difficult decision, having considered all factors as backed up by research and statistics, regarding the current state of the health system.

The Department of Basic Education will be working closely with all nine Provincial Education Departments, to establish the true extent of the impact of the virus, resulting from the unfortunate demise of educators, workers and leaders in the sector, especially during the December and January holidays.

The basic education sector has also felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic during the marking of the 2020 National Senior Certificate examination scripts.

“Some of our markers have passed away, while others withdrew from marking due to fear and anxiety, but also because for some of them or their family members have tested positive.”

The department leadership will meet with provinces next week to check on the very latest regarding the state of readiness, and they will go to stakeholders for consultation on the details of the opening of schools for 2021 school year.

There has been mixed reaction. While many welcomed the decision as being in the best interests of everyone, trade union Solidarity and AfriForum condemned it.

“It is extremely short-sighted of the government to keep children out of schools for this (long) period,” said Johnell van Vollenhoven, media and liaison officer at Solidarity.

“Research from various sources has already shown that a school is, in most cases, the safest place where a child can find him- or herself during the pandemic. Not only do children receive much-needed education at school, but they are also supervised where safety measures are strictly enforced, and most children also receive their only meal for the day at school.

The consequences of this postponement are devastating for governing body appointments and other additional services that schools offer. As it is, teachers are already under pressure to catch up on backlogs that resulted from school days lost last year. It would be unreasonable to expect that further backlogs arising from the latest postponement of the school year would now also have to be addressed,” she said.

AfriForum said it plans on directing an urgent letter to the NCCC and the department to persuade them to allow schools that can prove that they adhere to Covid-19 regulations to reopen for learners on January 27, 2021, as planned.

According to Natasha Venter, Adviser for Educational Rights at AfriForum, this is in the interest of learners who have already lost a lot of school time in 2020.

“Many schools have already made the necessary arrangements to look after learners and staff’s health. It is, therefore, unfair for the Department of Education to disadvantage these schools because the department failed to intervene in ensuring that schools who were unable to implement the necessary measures are sufficiently equipped.”

“Schools have to adjust to the new normal that the virus brought about. Government’s procrastination with supplying the vaccinations and its refusal to allow other role-players to participate, as well as the possibility of even more waves of infections, mean that we will have to abide by safety regulations for a while longer – something that many schools already do successfully. This does not mean that children’s education, social development, and welfare should be neglected, however,” said Venter.

 

By Kerry Sutherland for BizCommunity 

Following a year dominated by Covid-19, with its knock-on economic effects, back-to-school 2021 looks different from previous years.

Salary cuts and retrenchments have affected many South Africans, and as a result, many parents are more cash-strapped than ever before. These are some of the changes we anticipate, with tips on how parents can navigate this expensive annual exercise.

Tighter budgets

Many schools provide parents with a list of stationery and uniform requirements for the year. There is no need to buy everything at the start of the year. Buy what you need and delay the purchasing of other items until they are needed. This is particularly true for the winter school uniform.

Before you go shopping, create a budget for each child. If your child is brand conscious, emphasise that brands are a “nice to have” rather than a necessity. Give them a budget and make it a fun exercise for them to shop around for the best bargains. This can also instil a sense of satisfaction that your child has shopped wisely.

From lunchboxes to laptops, make sure you’re buying quality so that you do not need to replace it in the short term. There are many websites you can use which compare what a laptop has to offer and if it is good value for money.

Find out if your child’s school has a second-hand shop for clothing, speak to other parents who are leaving the school, or who might have older children who have outgrown clothing, to see what you can buy from them.

Homeschooling your children could see your grocery bill expand. Meal (and even snack) planning in advance can help to keep track of your spending by avoiding impulse purchases and reducing food wastage. Prepare lunches the night before so that you aren’t tempted to order take-away.

Homeschooling options

Education has changed dramatically after many children around the world received their education through e-learning platforms during the pandemic. According to Deloitte’s research in the United States, 51% of parents are spending more on internet-based learning resources year-on-year, such as virtual tutors, subscriptions to e-learning platforms, and online classes. This has also been a trend in South Africa, as many children thrived with homeschooling and now prefer to continue with this method going forward.

A potential solution for families where one parent has lost their job during 2020 is for that parent to stay home and monitor the children while they embark on home-schooling. Many employers have told employees to work from home or to work fewer days from the office, allowing for more parental supervision of home-schooled children.

The initial outlay of homeschooling is pricey. You may need to buy desks and each child will need a quality laptop or desktop computer, with a webcam and microphone. Your household will also require a printer and scanner (or smartphone with scanner app) and an internet connection with sufficient data every month. Textbooks are in the form of e-books and cost R900 and R1,000 per year.

The cost of doing the South African National Senior Certificate online can range from as little as R3,500 to R23,900 per year. The cost of the British curriculum internationally accredited (Junior High, International GCSE, AS-Levels and A-Levels) can range from R10,000 to R84,000 per year.

Children can also tap into free online resources to supplement their school’s curriculum, by streaming stories for free through audible on Amazon or taking free courses on the non-profit Khan Academy’s website.

Many parents pay a fortune in private extra lessons for their children. Many of these can now be done online at a reduced cost and, in addition, you can save time and fuel costs.

Don’t stop your education savings plans

In cash-constrained times like these, you may wish to stop or reduce your children’s education savings plans. Be aware that insurance company education policies will charge a penalty for stopping your premiums. In addition, we all understand the power of compound interest over time; by stopping or reducing now, you will have to put in much more later to make up the difference. Many South African shares have lost value during 2020, so it is an excellent time to buy these shares at reduced prices.

If money is really tight, you can convince your child to contribute a portion of their birthday loot towards their education savings.

Lower increases in school fees for 2021

While many private schools have tried to reduce their annual fee increases as much as they can, if you find yourself in a position where you are unable to pay fees, contact the school urgently to discuss a possible reduction in fees, or a different fee paying arrangement.

 

By Manda Banda for Intelligent CIO

SA-based stationery retailer Bidvest Waltons and payments platform Karri have partnered to ensure a safe, simple and convenient Back-to-School experience for South Africans.

The partnership paves way for parents to purchase their Waltons stationery packs securely through the Nedbank powered Karri app.

Back-to-School stationery shopping was established by Bidvest Walton nearly 30 years ago, partnering with schools to give parents a simple and convenient purchasing solution for their children’s stationery needs.

Today, the iconic ‘Back-to-School Box’ is a household favourite for many South African families. Parents are able to order the traditional way by using printed order forms, through the Back-to-School e-commerce platform (backtoschool.co.za) or at any one of Bidvest Walton’s 53 retail stores.

Karri has created a cash-free school environment and has alleviated the administrative burden and safety concerns of schools to manually collect cash.

Parents are now able to buy their stationery packs directly through the Karri App in mere seconds.

The app also eliminates the administrative burden on schools, of handing out catalogues and order forms, collecting orders and handling cash.

Olivia Rungasamy, National Schools Manager, Bidvest Waltons, said: “We always aim to simplify our customer purchasing experience and we are excited by what this innovative partnership with Karri affords our partner schools, parents and learners. It solves the all-time hassle of buying Back-to-School stationery. We have a responsibility to our customers to ensure that their Back-to-School shopping experience is safer and more convenient now and long into the future.”

Douglas Hoernle, CEO, Karri said the changes to the school terms as a result of the pandemic has put a lot of pressure on everyone.

“We are in the fortunate position of being able to do our bit to take away some of the administration that would otherwise take away from valuable teaching time,” said Hoernle.

Source: Cape Talk

Stationery supplier Bidvest Waltons has responded to service complaints from Cape Town parents who did not get their back-to-school orders on time.

Some parents complained about failed deliveries, lack of communication and poor customer service.

Tessa Dowling, Cynthia Makwenyaa and Andrew Williams were among those affected by the delays.

They all described to consumer journalist Wendy Knowler how the stationery supplier had no boxes prepared despite their preorders.

When they arrived to collect the stationery sets, boxes were not labelled and many parents had to wait hours or return later for assistance.

Waltons says it will refund orders that were paid for but not received by customers.

Knowler says parents should use their collective power to push schools to review their agreements with stationery suppliers that don’t deliver.

If a school recommends a system that doesn’t deliver and fails to communicate, it’s up to the parents [to ask the schools] about what pressure they are putting on the service provider to up their game.

Below is the statement consumer journalist Wendy Knowler received from Waltons:

“We accept and sincerely regret the frustrations suffered by this customer but unfortunately, we do sometimes have glitches in a logistics operation of this nature and magnitude of the back to school one. While the issue is now resolved, we have also contacted our customer to apologise for the poor experience.

We assure you that we are committed to resolving all issues brought to our attention. To this end we have a dedicated mail address for customers to communicate with us which enables us to personally deal with queries:

bts2019@cape.waltons.co.za

In addition to our normal planning for this important part of our business which starts after the end of the current season, we review any issues which arose during the last season and also share experiences with other regions in order to continuously improve our service levels. Should any boxes or items not have been received but been paid for, we would obviously refund these amounts.

We are very proud of our involvement over so many decades in the back to school market and would thus like to express our thanks to all our customers for their continued support. We try to learn and so get better every year.

Thank you too for bringing this matter to our attention as any service let down is not acceptable to us.”

By Devon Koen for Herald Live

While nothing signals the end of the festive season more than the onslaught of back-to school advertising and with parents feeling the financial pinch after splurging over the past two weeks, The Herald conducted a flash price comparison on a number of school supplies.

With most retail shops dropping the price of school stationery staples drastically this week before the first term starts, items on the shelves at selected shops may change in the coming days.

Major shops visited this week included Pick n Pay Hypermarket at William Moffett Park, Game The Bridge, and Shoprite and Checkers Hyper at Greenacres.

All the shops visited have specials on various school stationery items, including those listed.

Eight generic items have been selected which are listed on most schools’ stationery supply lists issued to parents.

While you can expect to pay more than R200 for the items priced, Shoprite shows a marginally cheaper offering with a basket full of basic stationery adding up to R208.42, while the most pricey of the shops is Game at R255.92.

Below is a breakdown of the selected items and their pricing at the various retailers:

Staedtler HB Tradition pencils (3 pack)

  • Pick n Pay – R13,95
  • Shoprite – R14,99
  • Checkers – R28,99
  • Game – R14,99

Pritt glue stick (43g)

  • Pick n Pay – R35,95
  • Shoprite – R29,99
  • Checkers – R42,99
  • Game – R38,99

Butterfly A4 pocket file (30 pages)

  • Pick n Pay – R20,95
  • Shoprite – R32,99
  • Checkers – R21,99
  • Game – R22,99

Staedtler retractable wax crayons (12 pack)

  • Pick n Pay – R32,95
  • Shoprite – R33,99
  • Checkers – R33,99
  • Game – R38,99

A4 Office Paper White (500)

  • Pick n Pay – R61,99 (Rototrim)
  • Shoprite – R52,99 (Typek)
  • Checkers – R52,99 (Typek)
  • Game – R64,00 (Typek)

BIC ballpoint pens

  • Pick n Pay – R21,95 (3+2 free)
  • Shoprite – R13,99 (3 pack)
  • Checkers – R15,99 (3 pack)
  • Game – R20,98 (4+3 free)

Staedtler colour pencils (12)

  • Pick n Pay – R18,95
  • Shoprite – R18,99
  • Checkers – R18,99
  • Game – R41,99

A4 hardcover books (each)

  • Pick n Pay – R10,95
  • Shoprite – R10,49
  • Checkers – R11,99
  • Game – R12,99

By Daniela Forte for MultiChannel Merchant 

Back-to-school spending in the United States is projected to reach $27.6-billion this year or $510 per household, up slightly from $501 in 2017, according to data from Deloitte’s annual back-to-school survey.

The use of desktops and laptops is expected to lose share, with 49% of respondents this year saying they planned to do so, down from 53% in 2017, while mobile is projected to increase from 49% to 53%. In-store shopping is expected to be the preferred channel during back to school, representing $15.7 in total sales. The average spend for in-store purchases is projected at $292.

Clothing and accessories are expected to dominate at $15.1 billion in sales, followed by school supplies ($6 billion), computers and hardware ($3.7 billion) and electronic gadgets ($2.8 billion).

While demand and average spend is high for clothing and accessories at $286, the highest average planned spend for computers and hardware is slightly higher, at $299.

The survey revealed that children will likely influence over $21 billion in back-to-school spending, with 80% having a moderate-to-high influence in clothing and accessory purchases.

Online back-to-school shopping will be $6.3 billion, according to Deloitte, at an average spend of $115. Those undecided about which channel to shop in are expected to spend $5.5 billion, with an average spend of $104.

“The amount people plan to spend and tendency to shop in physical stores for back-to-school are consistent with last year, but retailers need to act fast for that $5.5 billion wild card,” says Rod Sides, VC for Deloitte LLP, and U.S. Retail, Wholesale and Distribution Leader, in a press release. “In just one year, previously undecided dollars have shifted dramatically by product category.”

Sides said, for example in 2017, 30% of people said they hadn’t decided if they would purchase computers online or in-store and that number shrunk 20% this year, most of it going online. In electronics, undecided spending dropped 10 percentage points, moving primarily into the stores.

Mass merchants are once again the most popular type of back-to-school retailer, cited by 83% of survey respondents, while price-based retailers (38%) and pure-play e-commerce sellers (36%) aren’t nearly as popular.

Shopping activity is expected to peak by early August, with about 90% of shoppers active from late July to early August, accounting for 66% of all sales. By period, shoppers are expected to spend $9.9 billion in the first two weeks of August and $8.1 billion in late July.

Parents who begin their shopping in July are likely to spend 20% more than late starters, Deloitte found. Early shoppers are more deal-seeking (40% vs. 27%) and mobile-savvy (55% vs. 50%) compared to late shoppers. They’re also bigger spenders, at an average outlay of $544, compared to $455 for later shoppers.

This year customers expect online and physical shopping experiences to be complementary. Fifty-six percent said they plan to research online before making in-store purchases, while 52% said they would purchase from online retailers who offer free shipping.

Less than 25% of respondents said they were likely to use social media during back-to-school season. Of those so inclined, finding promotions (cited by 63%) or coupons (59%) and browsing products (44%) were listed as their primary objectives.

Source: Business Wire 

Staples, the back-to-school specialty store, commissioned a recent survey, with parenting authority Fatherly, that discovered 85 percent of parents and 83 percent of children prefer to shop in-store during the back-to-school season. To help accommodate shoppers, most of whom find it important to interact with products before purchasing, Staples’ dedicated in-store specialists make the annual shopping trip as convenient, efficient and fun as possible.

“Staples plays a proud role in millions of families and teachers’ annual back-to-school shopping trips and we are excited to deliver a one-of-a-kind Staples in-store shopping experience,” says Amy Lang, Vice President, Store Experience, Staples. “As the Back to School authority, our store associates are eager to help parents get their children everything they need on their school lists to ensure a successful school year.”

The survey also revealed that the back-to-school shopping season is a way for parents to spend quality time with their children. More than 90 percent of parents surveyed said they allow their children to get involved in the aisles by having them read the lists aloud, and encouraging them to pick out their favorite colors and designs for the supplies they need.

The Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector in the Department of Economic Development (DED) has called on retailers in Dubai not to increase prices of school stationery in view of the back to school season.

CCCP officials will conduct an inspection campaign in the coming days to increase consumer awareness and ensure that retailers abide by the listed prices.

The initiative is meant to emphasise the importance of transparency and trust between traders and customers as well as enhancing business competitiveness in Dubai.

CCCP cautions retailers that violation of stationery price regulations noticed during inspection visits or following consumer complaints will attract fines.

Officials also call upon consumers to ensure that they are not made to pay a higher price for school stationery and to report if they notice any such attempt by retailers.

Ahmed Al Awadi, Director of Consumer Protection Division in DED said: “A few traders take advantage of the overwhelming demand for school supplies and stationery during the back to school season and unscrupulously increase prices of such items.

“For any change in prices, traders should obtain prior permission from the Department of Economic Development and price list should be displayed prominently in the store and all promotional brochures.”

Al Awadi said inspection campaigns will be conducted to detect any unauthorised price rise and verify the retailer’s commitment to price regulations.

He said: “School supplies account for 50 per cent of the stationery sold during the back-to-school season. We call upon consumers to ask for the invoice on any purchase and retain a copy to be produced in the event of any complaints later.

“If the retailer refuses to give an invoice, the consumer must notify us on the Ahlan Dubai number 600 54 5555 displayed in the outlet or visit the DED office at the Business Village.”

Al Awadi said DED seeks to strengthen the relationship between the merchant and the consumer and to clarify the procedures, which are meant to uphold the highest standards in service and customer happiness in line with the UAE Consumer Protection Law.

In doing so, DED applies the best practices and principles in customer service and sees that consumers are not exploited during seasonal increase in demand.

Source: www.emirates247.com

BTS shopping will soon be in full swing, and parents are undoubtedly looking for ways to save money on school supplies.

According to a recent study from Ebates released by Consolidated Credit, 34% of Canadian parents surveyed will spend less than $100, and 22% plan to spend more than $200 per child.

Of the parents in British Columbia who were surveyed, 20% say they plan to spend more than $200 per child and 41% said they plan to spend less than $100 per child.

Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit, says that back to school season is one of the busiest shopping times of the year behind the winter holidays.

Parents with kids heading back to school this fall should make sure they take stock of what supplies they already have at home before going shopping.

“If you’ve got more than one child, that can get pretty expensive and take a bite out of your budget around this time of the year,” he says.

Schwartz suggests families go into stores with a plan and stick to it in order to keep costs down.

“Don’t go overboard. A lot of schools will provide lists that you need and sometimes those lists don’t come out until after school started,” he says.

Families should also go through their homes to take stock of what they already have and items they can potentially reuse.

“Recycle, reuse and rummage,” says Schwartz. “That means going through everybody’s backpacks from last year. Maybe you’ve got a drawer that you have in the house that’s full of pencils and pens and some of the staples that you might need and see what you can reuse there so you can avoid buying it altogether.”

Schwartz also suggests involving kids in the decision making process.

“Give them a budget. Give them a list. And perhaps even split some of the savings if they come in under budget,” he said. “It’s a fantastic learning tool for the kids around this time of year.”

Families should also keep an eye on any drops in price on items they’ve already purchased. Many stores will give shoppers back the difference.

According to research from MarketWatch, parents also make the mistake of shopping at dollar stores assuming they will have the lowest prices on everything, which isn’t always the case.

Big box stores can offer good deals on items by offering them as “loss leaders” for incredibly low prices. Their research also found that Amazon can also offer good deals if you buy in bulk but not necessarily on individual items and that a majority of consumers plan to shop both online and in-store.

By Ross McLaughlin & Carly Yoshida for www.bc.ctvnews.ca

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