Azlan Othman & Rokiah Mahmud
The new academic term starts today but parents are still getting last-minute school supplies for their children.
Many families were spotted shopping in the commercial areas of Kiulap and Gadong yesterday for stationery, school uniforms, shoes and bags.
One father, Jury bin Hakeem, said, “While civil service employees received their bonuses at the end of December, those in the private sector are only just getting their salaries. This is the only opportunity they have to shop for supplies.”
His view is shared by Norsinah binti Kipli, whose school shopping is still unfinished. “I hope to complete all of my children’s book lists before their classes start,” she said.
Hajah Nor, who has three children, said, “It has become an annual event for us. This year, my daughter will be attending religious school for the first time and my eldest son will be sitting for the Primary School Assessment (PSR), which means that I have to spend more on my children’s supplies.
“For the religious school alone, I spent about BND80 on two sets of school attires and BND30 on two pairs of shoes after the 10 per cent discount. And for my son who is in Year 6 at a private school, I spent BND40 for books on top of the annual book fees of BND240.”
Some parents prefer to shop for school essentials overseas. Mohd Aini, who recently went to Kuala Lumpur, said that he bought two lunchboxes and two water-bottles from Smiggle Store, which is popular among schoolchildren.
“I only bought the necessary items. For the rest, I just reuse old bags and stationery from the previous year,” he said.
Another parent, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that her budget involved regular back-to-school items. “But it also depends on what my children need, such as reference or revision books to motivate them to study hard,” she said
On the retail front, Manager of Samima Sdn Bhd Mohamed Rafi bin Haji Tajuddien said the business has been brisk as usual during this period of the year.
“Sales have been improving compared to last year, and we have opened a new branch in Tutong. We sell quality brands, as we want students to continue using these items for a long time,” he said. “For this back-to-school period, we are offering 30 to 40 per cent promotions on colour pencils, examination pads and exercise books. If there is a steady stream of customers, we will stay open until 11.30pm.
“We even set up a makeshift tent outside our shop, due to lack of space, and I would like to thank the Town and Country Planning Department of the Ministry of Development for giving us approval. We also hired nine to 10 more local staff to assist us until the end of January.”
However, secondary schoolteacher Hamidah warned that some bookstores might already be running low on some textbooks and workbooks. “In the past, I had students telling me that the books were all sold out. Some even had to photocopy the required books while waiting for new stocks to arrive,” she said.