5 Things All Parents Should Know About School Uniforms Buying
If you are a parent with a kid in an Indian private school, you probably know the drill of buying the uniforms. It starts with the school telling you where to go for its uniforms. Its Sunday evening and instead of watching the latest flick on Netflix, you decide to go for this excursion filled with adventure! You drive through heavy traffic, find parking, and then show up at the shop. Its peak time to buy the uniforms and your fellow parents have also, somehow, decided to show up at the same time! So while you have an opportunity to socialize and bond over parent issues, you are struggling to cross three files of parents, all battling to touch down at the shop platform and grab the salesman’s attention. After about 5 minutes of “survival of the fittest/tallest” game, you are able to tell your size to the salesman. Now if you are lucky, you will get the size. If you are real lucky, there will be some place where you can try and make sure it’s the right size. If you are unlucky, the salesman will give you the bad news – the size you need just went out of stock! So now, you can look forward to repeating this adventure, some other day!
Sounds your own story? You are not alone! Millions of parents have this and similar experience to share. While we moved from landlines to mobile phones, from hailing auto to hailing Ola, waiting outside that famous eating joint to ordering their food on Swiggy, nothing much has changed about your uniform buying experience. It begs the question why!?
So if you want to challenge the status quo and have the courage to question, here are 5 things that you should know and ask. It may help you get a better deal, at least next year!!
Is there only one vendor for your school uniforms?
If you hear just one vendor name for buying of your school uniform, it’s a clear indication something is not right. One can be sure of getting a rough deal when there is monopoly. Many school’s do not like to have “arrangements” with multiple vendors because it makes the “% math” difficult to manage.
Has the School “authorized” a vendor for uniforms?
Have you received messages from parents/ teachers or from school where school says it has authorized a certain vendor? If yes, you should know that it is against CBSE Affiliation Bye-Laws. Your school can neither “authorize” nor “unauthorize” a vendor for selling its school uniforms. You should ask your school to ensure it complies with CBSE Affiliation Bye-Laws otherwise its affiliation could be withdrawn by the CBSE Board.
Has the school said the use of its logo/monogram requires its approval?
This is another mis-information spread by schools to dissuade both new vendors and parents to buy from so called “unauthorized” vendor. Unless we are talking about Registered Trademarks, which carry a ® symbol with it, there is no law which forbids anyone from using the school name/ logo; more so, when it comes to school uniforms. So it is childish for school authorities to spread such mis-information. All parents must know this.
Are the school messages coming to you as signed circulars or through intermediaries?
There is another trick that schools have learnt to play to avoid sending illegal messages themselves. CBSE Affiliation Bye-Laws mandate creation of EPTA or Executive Parent Teacher Association. The idea behind creating this group is to ensure parents rights are protected. For example, any proposal for fee hike must pass through the EPTA. However, certain schools have learnt to subvert this group effectively to meet its own agenda. The members of EPTA are given special treatment. Their meetings are often held in Principal/ Director/Chairperson’s chamber. Tea and snacks are served. Agenda becomes the most unimportant part of the gathering! Some poor parents believe that being an “obedient” member of the EPTA will secure extra marks for their wards or vice-versa! So when school wants to send out a message which is not legal, it asks the EPTA members to send it out on their behalf. If you are an EPTA member, please ask school management to provide you such messages on the school letterhead with signature. If you are a parent and getting such messages from EPTA members or other teachers over WhatsApp, please ask them to get it in writing from school management.
Is the school frequently changing its uniform?
How many parents know that if the school has to change its uniform, it cannot do so without the consent of EPTA? And it has to make this decision within reasonable time to allow vendors to comply. Also, the information about the new pattern must be publicly made available to anyone making a formal request for the same. So if the school has decided to change the uniforms, do ask for the motivation behind it.
It is in the larger interest of the parents to be vigilant and cognizant of these traps. In an open and transparent economy, competition thrives and then customer is the real king! Prices come down and service improves. Remember, it is important to challenge the status quo! Only then, someday, there could be a Swiggy for your school uniforms!!!