Why must parents pay for stationery?

I have a serious problem in understanding what is happening – our government professes “free education for all”, but for whom is it actually free?

The woman who works for us in our home came to us last week asking to borrow money so she could buy stationery for her child. While I understand textbooks are expensive, basic stationery should be given to the pupils at no charge as many live on the borderline of poverty and cannot afford this expense.

On the other hand the woman who works for me in my business told me, when I asked her, that her grandchild did not have to pay for basic stationery as it was given free to the pupils at the school which she attends.

Are some schools charging pupils for stationery, dependant on which area the school is in, and others not?

Further to this, I asked the woman who works for me in my home if I could see the list of required items, which she willingly showed me. Much to my amazement on this list I saw items such as toilet paper, steel wool and polish.

What is happening – surely these items are paid for by the school authorities? Why must the parents pay for these?

Can somebody in the know please explain this to me?

-George Charalambous, Essexvale, Port Elizabeth

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