First Bell Signals Money Time: Armenian parents do not skimp for their schoolchildren expenses

This year even the world crisis did not hinder parents in their preparations for September 1 to spend hundreds of dollars on buying clothes and stationery for their schoolchildren and send then to school.

According to average calculation it takes some $100-150 to equip one child for school, including textbooks and clothes, while in case of students of senior schools such an amount is spent on only one dress of clothes.

Hasmik Mkrtchyan, 37, from Echmiadzin (Armavir Province), is among mothers who borrowed money (50,000 drams -about $135), in order to buy clothes and schoolbags for her three schoolchildren.

“I have not bought notebooks yet, because I bought them last year, and it turned out that they distributed their own notebooks at the school, and we had to buy those notebooks, too,” says Mkrtchyan. “I spent only 3,000 drams (about $8) on stationery for the beginning,” she adds.

“There is a new law at schools - they demand to buy only their own notebooks. What a State is it?! A notebook costs 350 drams (95 cents),” she adds.

Like parents, traders are also more active on the eve of the new education year but with raising the prices of stationery and other accessories necessary for school. Thus, an average notebook costing 30 drams (about 10 cents), on the eve of September 1 became 45-50 drams, a thick notebook from 200 drams became 240-350 drams depending on the quality.

“Outside (of the school) the prices are not low either. For example, last year in May, I bought a school diary for my son from the school, paying 450 drams (about $1.20), and as for my daughters, I bought diaries for them from a shop, paying 800 drams (about $2.16) for each,” Hasmik says.

During the recent years the practice of selling their own notebooks is implemented at many schools of Armenia. In fact, the school does not produce those notebooks; it simply buys them and resells them to schoolchildren, suggesting that those are notebooks of high quality and they are handier for writing.

At many schools of Yerevan in May, when children were going to have their summer vacations, they were warned not to buy notebooks in September.

In fact, it is possible to buy notebooks at lower prices. There are schools which do not demand pupils to buy their notebooks, for example, at School # 171, in Avan community, where keen-witted parents manage to spend less money on stationery.

Nadya Muradyan, 32, spent only 6,000 drams (about $16) on buying notebooks, a schoolbag and stationery for her seventh-grade son, buying that entire stuff from one of Yerevan’s wholesale markets – Surmalu.

“There, an 80-page notebook costs 60 drams (about 16 cents) less expensive than in Avan. So I saved 300 drams (about 80 cents) buying five notebooks,” says Nadya, who also spent less money on clothes – 4,000 drams (about $11).

“My son had shoes, so I did not buy shoes for him. I spent 5,000 drams (about $13) on books. Thus, totally I spent 15,000 drams (about $40) to send my son to school,” says Nadya, mother of one schoolchild, presenting the invoice of her expenses.

Each book, given at school, costs 330-400 drams (about 90 cents to $1). A parent pays that amount for using the book during the whole education year. And those books that cannot be found at libraries, are sold at 1,000 drams (about $3) each, and parents usually have to buy 2-3 such books.

Lusine Adamyan, 28, has already spent 100,000 drams (about $270) to send her first-grade son to school.

“To tell the truth, I did not expect that I would spend so much money,” Lusine says. “But he is my first child, I want to buy everything for him, so I went to a normal shop. I paid 18,000 drams (about $48) for the schoolbag, 25,000 drams (about $67) – for stationery. I bought shoes for 18,000 drams (about $48), and the suit (his school uniform) was a present, and if it were not, I imagine how much it would cost. And the education fee for the first month is 30,000 drams (about $81),” she adds.