TOMORROW primary and secondary schools will break off for their holidays. Each time students leave or report to school, there is usually a shortage of transport that makes commuting quite difficult especially for public transport users.
This problem has been noted and I still remember a time when the Education Minister spent most of his day at Nyabugogo Taxi Park, to see what exactly was causing these transport shortages.
A few days back, I read a tweet from the Education Ministry talking about a meeting that had been held with transporters concerning the issue of student’s transportation at the end of each school term. I have no idea what transpired in that meeting since I was not in attendance but here is my two cents on this issue.
First, we have to acknowledge that this problem is bigger when students are leaving school as opposed to when they are returning to school. When schools open, some students delay to return to school after coming up with all sorts of flimsy excuses. However, they all leave at once at the end of the term and thus clog the available transport facilities.
So to start with, teachers should ensure that all report cards are ready by Friday morning and then go ahead to hand them over to students preferably around 9:00 a.m. This will ensure that students’ start leaving school at a time when the morning rushing hour is ebbing away.
School authorities should then ensure that all children have left school by 12:00 p.m. What this does is that it ensures that students do no delay at school and thus push into the evening rush hours where even daily commuters have trouble finding transport back home.
I have noticed that some students have a habit of leaving school and hanging around the trading centres only to board taxis late in the evening. Now this is where parents should come in. If your child was handed a report card at 9:00 a.m but gets home at 7:00 p.m, then they are not being honest with you. They probably were passing time or engaging in anti-social behaviour.
On the other hand, local leaders and police should not let schoolchildren idle around the trading centres instead of going home. I have, for example, seen taxis that wait for hours at Nyacyonga while students are just hanging around the shops buying nothing and doing nothing. This has to be checked.
On the business side, transport operators who spend the off peak hours sitting in their buses and yawning should instead head to schools and pick up students. When I was in my O’Level, students would organise with taxi operators to pick them up from school and take them to the taxi park.
A student would write names of those willing to use a particular taxi and collect money from them then agree with a taxi driver who would be at their school even before report cards were handed over. We left school very early in the morning and got home by around midday.
The problem I have noticed here is that students never plan for the last day of the school term. Most teachers (including yours truly) have tales of students begging for transport fare on the last day.
So, without any plan, they flood a trading centre and compete for the same means of transport. The practice of idling around and boarding later, results in students reaching the taxi park late hence fighting for the same space as other commuters yet, they have luggage.
Therefore, teachers should not keep students at school until late; students should not waste time when they are supposed to be going home. In addition, transporters should utilise their off peak hours to ferry students to their destinations. That way we will not have a Minister spending his day in a suit at the taxi park in this hot weather.