It should have been a directive! The advice given to teachers by the Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataha Museveni to review the school-reporting time with a view to sticking to the relatively-agreeable 8am, and the advice the First Lady gave to parents to stop using boda bodas to transport their children to school could have come a bit late but should all the same be lauded.
Over the past two decades, a lot of changes have been experienced in the education sector, notable among them the mushrooming of private schools following liberalization.
This single development gave rise to unprecedented standards and academics competition, mostly at the kindergarten and primary school levels, with the new schools trying to outwit each other, and also trying to outwit the traditional schools like Buganda Road, Kitante and Nakasero primary schools.
Since that advent, our young school-going children’s lives have changed; the toddlers report to school at 6am and go back home at 4pm, while their older colleagues have to brave the whole day at school.
As a result, it is not surprising to visit some of these schools in the morning at around 9am and one finds almost a whole classroom of toddlers dozing off; they simply can’t handle the pressure of waking up before 5am and then manage to stay awake during the early hours of the morning!
And then turning to the boda bodas, some parents, because of trying to ‘save’ time, have resorted to hiring boda boda riders to take their children to school. All the while, without a care in the world as to how the rider behaves on the road!
It is common knowledge that boda bodas are the leading cause of road accidents and, at the ‘best’ many a rider and passenger have had limbs amputated, while those not so lucky have died! Actually, it is not surprising to find a rider carrying four kids on the motorcycle, in the process exposing them to the perils of the road. The question then begs: why would a parent knowingly expose his/her child to such danger?
It is against such a background that the First Lady’s advice be taken seriously and if need be even be made a directive.
We need these children alive!