Tunisia -Government sponsored school supply fair provides relief for cash-strapped parents
Location: Tunis – Tunisia
Source: A24 in Tunisia
Restrictions: A24 subscribers
Date: 09/15/ 2022
Some Tunis retailers use the back-to-school shopping season as an opportunity for price gouging. But parents in the capital are relieved to see the Ministry of Trade and several wholesalers step in to run a fair to help parents stock up on supplies as their children return to class.
Tunisia’s soaring inflation is a burden to parents with school-age children. The regular basket of basic stationery supplies – pens, pencils, notebooks, and backpacks- can cost as much as three hundred U.S. dollars.
That’s particularly outrageous when the average monthly household income is between 201 and 500 Tunisian dinars per month, which is about 62 to 154 U.S. dollars.
“We are going through difficult living conditions, but we are trying to provide for our children the best we can,” a special education teacher told A24 as she shopped for school supplies.
– Soundbite (Al-Munsef – Employee and father of two):
“I heard prices here are more affordable than bookstores, so I came. I wanted to find a place to help me save cost. Prices are extremely high in bookstores and big commercial places. I hope economic conditions improve so we can be able to provide everything our children need.”
– Soundbite (Abdul Majeed Al-Sudani – Transport company worker):
“I came here because prices are affordable and supplies are sold from directly producer to consumer. There is a big difference in prices of notebooks and other school supplies here, which I am very happy about. I feel comfortable here despite the crowd and fatigue from standing in a long queue. We went around to other places before coming here but did not buy anything because the prices were so high; you have to have with you between 500 and 1,000 Tunisian dinars (between US$ 157 and US$ 314).”
– Soundbite (Hanan – Special education teacher):
“The truth is we are no longer financially able to afford much. We are going through difficult living conditions, but we are trying to provide for our children the best we can. Thankfully, teachers are also helpful, they do not ask us to buy expensive notebooks. We have posted an appeal on social media for teachers to ask our children only for what we can afford.”
– Soundbite (Thuraya Al-Nafati – Housewife):
“Some people are struggling greatly due to the difficult economic conditions and high prices, as they have to support big families and pay rent with hourly wage jobs. Bookstores are exploitative; they do not sell subsidized notebooks, and force us to buy the expensive ones. I came here because they said prices are affordable.”
– Soundbite (Naela Abbasi- Representative of wholesalers):
“The fair is under the supervision of the Ministry of Trade. We organized the fair in order to lighten the burden on citizens and mitigate school costs. Supplies here are sold directly from producers to consumers at prices that almost equal manufacturing costs. Our aim is to provide it in small quantities so that everyone can have some. I know some people have two or three children, so they need more than 5 notebooks, but quantities are limited. Prices are affordable and hopefully we have enough for everyone, so no child remains in need of school supplies by the time they return to school.”