This week, pupils sat for the Primary Leaving Examinations. Next week, Senior Three and Six students will also write their final exams nationwide.
Meanwhile, the school term will officially end for students of non-candidate classes. However, this time round, the close of the term is set to take on a new format that I can only describe as a VIP transport scheme for those attending boarding schools.
At the beginning of the week, it an announcement passed that students would get holidays in shifts as a way of addressing the transport shortages that often characterise the beginning and end of each school term. The first shift expects to break off today while the rest will be expected to travel on Friday.
To crown it all, the Chief of Traffic Police said, “Traffic Police will provide convoys to escort vehicles moving in large numbers and clear the way for them.” He also added that they would provide police officers who will travel with the buses transporting students to ensure that the drivers do not over speed. Now if this is not VIP treatment then I do not know what is.
None of this is necessary in my humble opinion. How are the Police going to ensure that students in different schools break off at exactly the same time? In addition, do drivers need to travel with a police officer in order to obey traffic rules?
When I was a student, one of us would write down and collect money from fellow students who intended to use public transport. We would then book a commuter taxi/bus driver who would show up at school on the last day and transport students on the list.
The same can work here especially if the students are ready to pay a slightly higher fare. Transport providers are in it for profit so the Education Ministry and Police should not expect them to transport students from school with their entire luggage at normal prices.
Parents with cars would also send a driver or come to school to pick their children. However, many would pick more than one child since they offered to transport the child of a neighbour, office colleague or relative.
Since Friday afternoons are set aside for sports for government workers, I do not see why those with cars cannot use this chance to go and pick their sons and daughters from school.
Students and transport service providers should take advantage of the off peak hours in a day. For example, between 10:00 a.m and 3:00 p.m most of the city traffic is at its minimum and you can see several buses parked, moving around with few passengers or fighting for the lone passenger that shows up.
This is the best time for the students to be travel as they will not be in direct competition with other commuters.
The idea of students breaking off on different days ignores the fact that they pay school fees for a full term with each day accounted for.
Therefore, what happens to the money budgeted for a full day once they break off before the scheduled time? In my view, this is an excuse for school heads to ‘eat’ money meant to feed students for a full day and trust me; it is a lot of money.
Can we also assume that when the new term begins the same formula of shifts will apply? While I commend the efforts to ease transportation for students, at the end of the day, it boils down to students’ and parents’ discipline and timely planning. Surely, the Education Minister has better things to do than spend a whole day at Nyabugogo Taxi Park ensuring that all is well.