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By MOHAMMED IQBAL
DOHA: In an important move, the Ministry of Business and Trade has stepped in to break the nexus between some private schools and commercial outlets in the sale of school uniforms.
The Ministry has also asked the Supreme Education Council (SEC) to stop private schools from selling school uniforms inside the campus from the next academic year.
The Ministry directive comes as part of its efforts to abolish all types of monopolistic practices in the local market.
Some private schools have been forcing students to buy school uniforms from specific shops. The Ministry, in a statement issued yesterday, asked both the schools and the shops to stop this practice, saying it is a clear violation of the Law No (19) of 2006 on protection of competition and prevention of monopoly.
It has asked the SEC to take necessary steps to do away with such practices.
The Ministry has asked the schools to give parents freedom to buy uniforms for their children from shops of their choice. The school can prescribe the colour and type of the uniform, but it should not insist on a particular brand for the cloth.
The schools have also been asked not to go for complicated colours and shades for the uniform forcing parents to buy it from exclusive dealers. The school logo should be made available separately to be fixed on the uniforms.
Enquiries with several private schools yesterday revealed that they have been following their own system for distribution of uniforms, which amounts to a clear violation of the Ministry directive. In theory, parents will be free to buy uniforms from any shop they choose, but they may find the prescribed cloth only with exclusive dealers. Sources in at least two Indian schools admitted that they have opted for a specific brand for the uniforms. They have made tie ups with leading manufacturers in India to provide the clothes.
“We give bulk orders to an Indian company to prepare the uniforms for our students so that we can ensure uniformity in colour and design as well as the quality of the cloth. Parents are free to buy it from outside provided they stick to the same brand and the prescribed colour,” said a senior official of an Indian school.
He claimed that the system is also beneficial for parents since it could cost them more if they decide to buy the uniform from outside. He said the school was selling uniforms and textbooks inside the campus but will soon stop this practice, following instructions from the SEC. A source from another Indian school said that their uniforms are sold through a textile shop in Doha dealing in a reputable Indian brand.
They are not available in any other shop. The school logo comes printed on the uniform.
Complaints about monopolistic practices in the sale of school uniforms and textbooks have been rampant in the country, which had forced the SEC to issue detailed guidelines to all Independent schools regarding school uniforms.
The Ministry of Business and Trade has now moved in to curtail the erring private schools.