In spite of the change in policy by the Ghana Education Service (GES) last April that new uniforms would be introduced for junior high?school (JHS) students in public schools, the fabrics are yet to be widely circulated.
The few places the materials are being sold seem to be enjoying good patronage, as parents have begun shopping for their children towards the new academic year that starts on September 10.
A few cloth and fabric dealers are already taking advantage of the situation by stocking up to meet the expected high demand in the coming days, but the dealers would, however, not reveal to the Daily Graphic, where and how they are getting their supplies.
The current situation of a few dealers selling the fabrics seems to suggest that there is restriction on their production and sale, but the management of the GES has said the production and sale of the materials is open to both local and foreign companies, just like any other uniform, but it seems this has not been well communicated, leaving only a few dealers to cashing in.
Most of the dealers the Daily Graphic spoke to indicated that patronage had not picked up in sale and availability because publicity on the new uniforms had been low.
They said they had expected the GES to intensify public education on the change after the formal announcement had been made last April.
A number of parents contacted by the Daily Graphic also said since the government announced that new uniforms would be introduced for JHS students in public schools, little had been heard about it.
A parent, Ms Joan Antwi, said she had expected the media to “make a lot of noise on them but nothing was done. Had you not drawn my attention to them now, I’d have even forgotten about them”.
For his part, Mr Philip Bayou Yirdeme said he was aware of the new uniforms but could not get the materials at his popular fabric seller and had to go to the Makola Market where he got them for his daughter.
The GES, early this year, announced at a press conference that starting from the 2019/2020 academic year, JHS students would wear new school uniforms.
The new uniforms will replace the popular brown and yellow khaki uniforms which have been used for over 30 years now.
The new uniform for girls is a khaki skirt with a striped shirt, while that for boys is a pair of khaki shorts with a striped shirt.
The old uniforms are expected to be phased out within the next three years.
The features of the new uniforms are the Ghana Flag, a certificate, a graduation cap and books.
The Ghana Flag is printed on the breast pocket of the shirt, signifying patriotism and a sense of belonging, while a certificate, which talks about graduation from the basic school level to the secondary level, is printed on the right and left top and down of the shirt.
A few shops that deal in different kinds of fabrics, including uniforms, at the Makola Shopping Mall and the Rawlings Park, both in the central business district (CBD) of Accra, which also have outlets in Kumasi, have stocked up for business.
A visit by the Daily Graphic to the CBD revealed that at all the places where the materials were sold, there were pictures of a boy and a girl in the new uniforms posted at visible places, while the shop attendants also went round the vicinity of the shops distributing flyers to create awareness of the availability of the materials in the shops.
Madam Boatemaa indicated that dealers had adopted their own way of advertising the materials and where the public could get them, but “we believe a word from the management of the GES on the new uniforms will trigger patronage”.
Upon enquiry, the Daily Graphic got to know that patronage was fairly good and was expected to pick up next week when parents would have received their salaries and their preparations towards the academic year would pick up.
Ms Elizabeth Obeng, one of the dealers, said: “We have not been overwhelmed with demands as it happened some years ago when there was a similar exercise of change of uniforms and we are not sure if it’s because parents have forgotten that JHS students will be wearing the new uniforms. Once parents are reminded or made aware, they will come in to buy, so sales will pick up.”
For her part, Madam Boatemaa said she was confident that a number of parents would start rushing to procure the new materials when other schoolchildren started wearing the new uniforms when school reopened.
“Parents may take their time to get the new uniforms for their children. Once some children start wearing them to school, other parents will eventually get some for their children. I believe they may be taking their time because it’s a gradual phasing out and not a complete change over,” she opined.