LAST week I played host to my young sister, Justine, who was visiting Rwanda for the very first time. Like a seasoned guide, I promptly took her around some of Kigali’s interesting places.
I showed her the parliament, ministerial offices, the Pentagon, schools, the Kigali Genocide Memorial centre, the Union Trade Centre and of course the Kigali International Airport.
While we strolled towards the airport, I stopped to ask the first policeman if it was necessary to have her handbag searched. Before he could answer, my eyes met with those of his colleague who I quickly recognised as my former student.
Just like me, this young man was clearly happy to see me after a long time.
I felt so proud introducing him as my former student. We had a small chat before proceeding to the airport building. Incidentally, the encounter with my former student who now confidently dons a neat police uniform happened at a time when the police institution was commemorating 10 years of service.
The police force has indeed embarked on several activities to mark this major milestone. These events have been widely covered by the press and it is only fair to say that the fellows in blue really understand their mandate as well as carry a sufficient level of corporate social responsibility.
More specifically, the Rwanda National Police force has appeared in the media on matters concerning their fight against drug abuse in schools as well as the establishment of anti-crime clubs in schools. This is where the bond between the police and the education sector is best manifested.
The police are clearly aware that most anti-social behaviours are nurtured in schools where the influence of peer pressure is most prevalent and therefore this is the right stage at which they should be nipped in the bud.
Apart from alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, deadly vices like addiction to narcotics are known to always be picked up by students while still in school.
However, with all the good intentions the police have, they may not yield much if the schools on the other hand are not cooperative. Since the role of the police is to keep law and order, and schools are homes to large sections of the population at a formative stage, as far as disciplinary matters are concerned, schools must exercise zero tolerance so that students do not become the vagabonds that will be arrested by the police in future.
Although the police are known to visit schools and talk about the dangers of drug addiction and other bad habits, school authorities should not be complacent and sit back.
They should use their power and wisdom to constantly pass on the same messages to the students.
It is pointless to simply expel a student caught using drugs or one who seriously harms another student. Some of these cases have to be handled by the police and not just the disciplinary official of the school if crime is to be eradicated from schools.
I cannot forget to commend the good traffic police officers who I often see assisting school children to cross busy roads in the city. Some motorists are so selfish and will not stop to let a child cross the road even when they are before a clearly marked Zebra Crossing.
As the police celebrate ten years of wonderful and dedicated service, schools should understand the role they have to play in order to make the work of our committed officers much easier. I am glad that some of my students have joined the force and not become vagabonds that keep running away from the police.