KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 4, 2016:

Parents are forced to spend more as schools re-opened for the new term today.

A survey by The Rakyat Post found that on an average, they were footing a bill of between RM300 and RM500 on school supplies.

The amount does not include school fees, administrative and tuition fees.

Living costs have risen, placing an extra burden on many families which are already struggling to make ends meet.

Young parent Johan Abu Kassim, an auditor, spent about RM300 for his son who entered Standard One this year.

“The amount does not include school uniforms, which cost about RM70 per set. I have bought three sets.

“I spent another RM70 per pair on school shoes,” he said, when met at Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Tun Dr Ismail 1 this morning.

School shoes cost about RM30 upwards, but Johan opted for leather school shoes which are easier to clean, he said.

Norwati Ali, a mother of two, said the items needed for school had increased in cost between 10 and 15% a year.

To look for the best deal on school needs, she compared the prices of several retailers.

She lamented that parents were actually paying for many basic necessities, despite the government trumpeting that it provided free education at the primary and secondary levels.

“Parents are the ones footing the bill, basically subsidising public education for our children.

“I spent about RM100 per set on school uniform for my Year 1 kid.

“The canteen food prices are also expensive. A student can barely have a decent meal with RM5 per day.

“The prices are just as expensive as restaurants,” she said.

Charles Tan, 38, said he was shocked on reading the prices on the school canteen menu.

The items included iced Milo (RM3.50), nasi lemak with chicken (RM3.00), soft drinks (RM2.60), packet drinks (RM2.00) and laksa (RM3.50).

“Not every family can afford to give their children RM5 a day each to spend at the school canteen.

“The government must lower the criteria for free or reduced-price lunches,” he said.

Under the Education Ministry’s Food Supplementary Programme, the rate is RM1.80 per day for pupils in Peninsular Malaysia and RM2.05 a day for pupils in Sabah, the Federal Territory and Sarawak beginning March 2007.

Primary school pupils, especially those from rural areas and whose families earn a monthly income of RM800 or less, which is RM400 per parent, are eligible for the programme.

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