What did your child pack to school?

HUNDREDS of students crowd around the booking offices of the major bus companies that ply upcountry routes.  Armed with their bus tickets, they stand close to their luggage as they wait for buses to their respective destinations. A good number heed the Education Ministry directive. They are clad in full school uniform. Most clutch onto their small mattresses and heavy bags.  This was the scene in the Nyabugogo taxi park as students reported for first term over the weekend.
Students heading back to school recently. Education Times / T. Kisambira
Students heading back to school recently. Education Times / T. Kisambira

HUNDREDS of students crowd around the booking offices of the major bus companies that ply upcountry routes.  Armed with their bus tickets, they stand close to their luggage as they wait for buses to their respective destinations. A good number heed the Education Ministry directive. They are clad in full school uniform. Most clutch onto their small mattresses and heavy bags.  This was the scene in the Nyabugogo taxi park as students reported for first term over the weekend.

However behind this rush, many a parent do not take trouble to check what exactly is in that suitcase.

Many parents are bound to face embarrassment just because they tend to ignore doing this small thing of checking. “It is important for parents to check what their children pack before they return to school and even when they report back from school,” says Aliel Makuza, the director of Adventist College of Rwankuba, in Nyabihu district.

Cases have been reported where parents are embarrassed because of ignoring this important aspect. Some students carry so many undesirable things to school.

It’s the reason why schools carry out checks at the beginning of term.  School matrons and wardens take time to check what each and every child has packed among their school belongings before they are fully accepted in school. Some students carry phones, radios, skimpy clothes, cameras, candles, make up and so many things but these are not allowed in schools

“If you let a child pack without your supervision you will be shocked. They pack everything and sometimes it could be as bad as drugs or alcohol concealed,” says Geraldine Mutesi a mother of two.

Unlike in the past, most schools now have stringent measures to ensure that students don’t smuggle anything illegal into school. All students are checked on arrival before they proceed to the dormitory.

“We check whoever is arriving and see what exactly they have carried. Those who have been checked are cleared to access the classes or the dormitories,” reveals a teacher at an upscale boarding school in Kigali.

Makuza says there should be no excuse for any student to flout the rule of what to carry to school.

He says at the end of every term, a circular is given to all the parents indicating the acceptable things that a child can carry to school.

“We outline to the parents what we need, and when students bring anything not allowed we confiscate it and keep it away in safe custody,” Makuza added.

What should not be in that suitcase?

Like most of the schools, Rwankuba officials try to emphasise the need for students to carry what they consider to be academic necessities. Anything considered extravagant or likely to affect one’s concentration levels is not accepted.

“For us, we allow only school uniform, plus sportswear and something extra for the weekend that students can wear as they go for laundry or manual work,” said Makuza.

Joseph Mutabazi, a student from Groupe Scolaire Gahini in Kayonza district says his school does not allow any other wear apart from the school uniform.  “Some students used to escape from school to drink beer, and the school would not tell them apart from other bar customers and so the school decided to ban other attire other than the school uniform,” Mutabazi said.

On the list of banned things, it seems, all the schools have agreed that phones are not something for a student to possess while at school. Instead most schools insist that parents who need to speak to their children can call a teacher at the school and speak to their child.

In some schools like Lycée Notre Dame de Citeaux in Nyarugenge district, if a student is found in possession of a phone, they are dismissed from the school. However in Rwankuba School, the phone is kept until the end of the school term.

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