Thanks to some awesome mentors in Guayaquil, we were able to get a bit more information on why a student buys a new uniform (sometimes all three must be replaced!) yearly.
1. Children grow :).
2. Boys, girls and adolescents damage their uniforms quickly. Since clean appearance is very important in Ecuadorian culture and educational institutions (noted by the immense amounts of students we met who didn’t attend school on random days because there wasn’t water to wash their uniforms), it is imperative the students have presentable clothing.
3. The schools invent many things to change the details on uniforms – often because these schools have deals with specific organizations / families that make uniforms.
4. The government does not sell the uniforms; in general, they are sold by businesses with the guidance of the educational staff.
Note: The government will occasionally offer training workshops for families to learn how to make uniforms, and the best families from the workshops will receive certification to do so. The government may subsidize uniform-makers, but in general the people who receive the financial benefit from uniforms are the producers of the uniforms.