Rising School Costs: A Year-Long Struggle For Sake Of The Kids

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KLANG Jan 12 – As the first day of this year’s school session begins today, many parents find themselves burdened with the ever-increasing cost of living. While they have to contend with paying up for the usual long list of uniforms, shoes, school bags and stationary, their concern is also for the possible increase in tuition fees with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) being implemented in April.

The Rakyat Post recently spoke to parents while they were shopping for their children at various retail stores in Jalan Taiping here, where bargains and reduced prices are an attraction. Father of three R. Vellu, 43, said the cost of buying school-related items had been increasing steadily with each year.

“Despite having a decent job and salary, it is important for me to come here instead of established school wear retailers to purchase good and durable school bags for my children. “Schoolbags that used to be RM20 to RM30 now cost RM40 to RM60.

“It takes good bargaining skills to get the best price out of retailers,” he said, adding that those who neither had the finances nor negotiating skills would suffer. The manager at an engineering firm attributed the continued increase in such items to the lack of monitoring by the authorities.

Vellu also expressed concern that tuition fees by private institutions could rise should GST be implemented. “Many parents like myself send our children for tuition to enhance what they learn in schools. I am willing to pay tuition teachers well to ensure my students can compete with their peers and do well.”

He admitted spending  a whopping RM1,200 on tuition for his three children, aged between six and 10. “My children take up many subjects and tuition centres often offer business-like packages.” As far as school-based assignments are concerned, it was a whole different picture, he lamented.

This was because parents had to invest in a computer and printer, while subscribing for an Internet connection. Admitting that the cost was manageable, Velu said he often wondered how low-income parents could afford even the simplest things for their children.

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