It is the early bird that catches the worm. The moral behind this saying is simply routed in time management and the benefits that come with keeping time.
Time management is a process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. It therefore cuts across all aspects of life and occupations—from the school-goers to busy career people.
For schools, the concept of time keeping is very important as every activity is scheduled for a particular time. It is no wonder that many students can attest to being punished for late coming.
The issue however is, what happens when a student gets to school late and how should late coming be dealt with?
For most schools in the City of Kigali, the latest students arrive at school is 7:40am, lest they risk missing school the entire day.
At ADB Secondary School in Nyarutarama, once it clocks past reporting time; a student will not be allowed in class—hence missing out on studies and other school activities.
There are fears that some students deliberately reach school late so that they are turned away to find time to indulge in personalactivities and non-academic affairs.
This, some say, can actually expose students to illicit drugs, alcoholism and pre-marital sex since they have a lot of time on themselves until they return home in the evening.
Because of the fear of going back home to be reprimanded for getting to school late, most students go about their personal activities that may not necessarily relate to class work.
So, is turning away latecomers the best way to deal with late coming in schools?
Students speak out
The New Times approached students at ADB secondary school in Nyarutarama to find out the reasons why they report to school late and what they think should be done to deter late coming. Kayiranga Patrick, a 20-year-old student who lives in Kibagabaga told us that the reasons why he sometimes gets to school late is because he has to do chores at home before walking to school.
But Hakizimana Jean Paul, 21, also a student at ADB, says that in most cases students sleep late and wakeup late for school. He cited traffic jam on the roads and poor time management whereby some students loiter around town before going to school, as some of the causes.
Asked whether sending the late comers back home was the most effective punishment to curb late coming, they both said that it is a waste of time and money because the money that they spend on transport is wasted. They say it breeds other vices like idleness and drug abuse.
We also visited APAPER School in Kacyiru, where we met Ingabire Marie Yvonne. She said that the main cause of late coming is poverty whereby many students walk long distances to and from school. She gave an example of a fellow student who used to walk from Bumbogo, a long distance from the school.
A parent’s worries
A concerned parent whose child is a student at APAPER, told us that her children are usually sent back home because they get to school late as they have to walk from Kimihurura to Kacyiru every morning. In her opinion they ought to be given other forms of punishment, like sweeping classes instead of being sent home.
Teachers have their say
A teacher at ADB, who preferred anonymity, disclosed that there is negligence on the part of the students. He however said that students who give genuine reasons and ask for forgiveness, are allowed to go to class or are sometimes given alternative punishment such as slashing the compound or sweeping classes.
Authorities at APAPER in Kacyiru also gave us their opinions on the issue of late coming:
The director in charge of discipline at APAPER told us that the problem of students who live far from school is not common and when it arises there is communication between parents and teachers.
She added that when late comers are sent back home, the school communicates with the parents of these students.