I am writing this one based on my experience in the province of New Brunswick Canada.
When we lived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the schools provided all the school supplies so parents did not have to rush into stores to buy back to school supplies except winter clothes because here school starts in September just when winter is coming.
When we moved to the province of New Brunswick, the parents have to buy all the school supplies (except text books are provided) plus the clothes and winter boots.
Where Uganda comes in is much like our province.
The school supply list is provided to all the stationery supplies in each city, class by class. The entire list. This list is also sent to all the parents some weeks before school starts. So you then end up with a crowd of parents with their kids going into the stores with their list and if they do not have it, they find the list in the store. First time I saw scribblers on the list, I even had no idea what it was. So we tied up one sales person for the entire shopping spree. The QUESTION – if these stores get the lists for each class, why do they not prepare packages and deliver them to each kid in each school? We can pay online (pre-order) or drive to the stores at our convenience and pre-pay then they deliver.
The above means that Ugandan bookstores can do the same. You can get the list of the text books each student needs in each school and add pens, pencils, etc… Then you add 20% for your service. The parents do not have to take matatus and boda bodas to go to Mbale or Kampala to buy the books. You are then left with just buying them clothes and shoes.
The other one is lunch and snacks. Generally, most people in Canada pack their lunch, drinks and snacks for work and we do the same for kids for school. Imagine you wake up at 6am to pack 4 lunch bags (we have 4 kids) and after that one hour, you are lining up to jump into the shower, bundle the little ones in the car (if you do not want them to take the bus which stops by their house, sometimes the temperature is negative 35 so these little people cannot stand outside for 5mins waiting for the yellow bus).
One school the kids attended, I used to buy meal tickets for them to eat in the cafeteria. France is amazing, schools provide hot meals paid for by the parents. So these meal tickets, the kids use only what they need and then you buy more. Remember that kids can lose money or it can be stolen from them or bullies can force them to hand it over.
Fast forward, this new high school, the kids need cash to buy food in the cafeteria. It has Interac machines but how many kids have debit cards? I suggest that the schools implement meal cards. They are electronic and scan-able. Each card can have $50 and the kids keep eating whatever they want. The card keeps going down in balance. When it gets to about 3 meals left, the school fires off an email to the parents that the kid’s card needs to be recharged and we can do that online. No cash, no tickets that could be stolen, no sweat. Kids are happy, parents are happy, the schools add their percentage for the service.
The above might be a bit too early for Uganda but this is where we are heading. In Canada and most of the world, we use plastic. We just charge up the cards and voila! No one has to drive around with 4 little people in the car looking for supplies or giving them cash then they come home “mommy, some kid forced me to hand over my lunch money”.
Information you could use.
Martha Leah Nangalama
The writer has kids in Canada and has lived all the above scenarios. Go out and make some money. I only provide ideas. All my opinions are mine and mine alone.