The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is worried by the continued trend by institutions of learning in the habit of forcing parents or guardians to buy uniforms only from them.
In a statement, the Commission said the Commission has continued to receive complaints from the public on this unfortunate and unfair practice.It reiterated the warning to such schools who have taken the law upon themselves to be engaging in unfair trading practices that exploits the consumers that the Commission is actively investigating such issues and will follow them accordingly.It said some schools have also continued tying school places to buying of the uniforms at the same school, a situation which is unfair and against the law as it limits consumer choices.
The Commission said this behaviour by schools is uncalled for, and is tantamount to unfair trading practice which, according to the Competition and Consumer Protection Act No. 24 of 2010, any institution or individual found guilty is liable to pay the CCPC a fine not exceeding ten percent of that person’s or enterprise’s annual turnover.
“What makes a sad reading is the fact that this trend is being perpetrated by school authorities, who should be custodians of the law, taking advantage of consumer’s desperate situations to engage in limiting consumer choice,” it said.
The Commission added, “We will not allow this situation to continue as it is likely to cause inflation of uniform prices and reduce consumer choice, while on the other hand it excludes other alternative sources that provide similar uniforms. Unfortunately, such a behaviour if allowed to continue is likely to frustrate Government’s efforts to provide cheaper, affordable or free education as pupils were more likely to be turned away from the school if they did not buy the uniforms from the school.”
The Commission said, “We are of the view that what schools only needed to provide is a general standard of what type, shade and colour of uniforms that are required, and ensure that school children conform to the standard of uniforms as guided by the school, whilst allowing parents and guardians to purchase uniforms from other sources that produce similar uniforms and most likely at competitive prices.”
‘Further, this conduct would also appear to contradict the Ministry of Education National Policy on Education which entrusts Educational Boards with sufficient discretionary powers to enable them to take positive and affirmative action on behalf of the poor and vulnerable. The Commission, therefore, requests the perpetrators to immediately desist from such vices and appeal to affected members of the public to report institutions of learning involved to CCPC.”