With scarce resources, parents have no choice but to prepare the return of their children to school next month.
Prices of school stationery and other needs in Doula have of late witnessed sharp rises, with traders taking advantage of the school reopening rush. School bags, shoes, exercise books, water bottles, rain coats and rain boats, which are not on the official price list, have taken an upward turn since the beginning of August and with the recent release General Certificate of Education, GCE examination results.
It has been observed that the prices are higher this year than the same period last year. In the Nkololoun Market, the cost of school shoes of size 30 hovers around 7,000 FCFA and 8,500 FCFA, up from 3,000 FCFA in the Central Market. A pair of size 35 shoes has gone up from 5,000 FCFA to 10,000 FCFA. This is compared to 6,000 FCFA and 9,000 FCFA the same period in 2015. Tony All Boys, a trader in Nkololoun who finds no reason for the hike, admitted that the prices were expensive this year.
On the other hand, the cost of rain boats and rain coats, which are necessities in rainy Douala, has also skyrocketed not just because of school reopening, but also because of persistent rains in the economic capital. A pair of rain boats (size 25) has gone up from 2,500 FCFA to 6,000 FCFA, while the cost of rain coats varies according to quality and size. Some parents however think that the cost of some material is cheaper than when schools effectively reopen. Madeleine Y, says school bags, shoes and certain exercise books are now cheaper, compared to school reopening periods.
Some bookshops in Bonaberi, Douala, she says, offer special discounts on all school material, but for exercise books: “I bought a second hand school bag at 10,000 FCFA in the first week of August. It was cheaper because it is durable and of better quality than some new ones.” She explained that last year, she had to buy up to three of such bags for just one of her kids. The first bag that cost 5,000 FCFA soon got bad and she again bought another for 7,000 FCFA. But just like the first, it got also bad some months later. She decided to buy a third. Even though at 10,000 FCFA, it only helped to round up the school year.