Each morning, I observe a group of students from a certain school hitching a ride. These pupils leave their homes early every morning, probably giving the impression to their guardians that they have set off for school, only to assemble at a junction along the way to their school for well-wishers to pick them up and drop them at their school.
What surprises me is why they deem themselves fit for lifts and not capable of walking all the way to their schools
Firstly, when one does not have the means to ride to school, they should not conclude someone will be available to take up that responsibility. If their guardians cannot afford it, then the only option is to trek to school, simple. Distance has never been an excuse for not walking to get education. I have walked a long distance before to primary school and made it. Students in rural Malawi and most African countries can attest to walking long distances daily to get to school and they have never even dreamed about hitching rides.
I know the story of Kenyan athletes who have become excellent Olympians because they had to run long distances to and fro school, thereby becoming fit enough to excel at sports. I am not suggesting that these particular students run to school to become good athletes. I want them to understand that others have walked or ran long distances to school before for lack of means and never looked for luxuries in places that do not exist.
Secondly, in my times, I was always reminded of how dangerous it was to associate with strangers, let alone get into a stranger’s car. It was a means of safeguarding and discouraging me from getting too used to people I did not know. It taught me to be contented with what was provided by my parents. Where are these children’s parents or guardians? Are they aware of these hitch hikings or its dangers? What about teachers—don’t they see what is going on? Is everybody awaiting a calamity before they can discourage their wards from taking such chances?
I have discovered that these particular students are not alone. Apparently, the practice is widespread in many urban public schools. Some, I am told will wait till 8 or 9 am until they get lifts. Many of these students are also given transport money which they opt to ‘save’ for chiwaya or other needs. How appalling.
My hear breaks when I see these students, not because I hate the fact that they want lifts, but I shudder to imagine the unforeseeable. Probably it is just my imagination running wide or just the parent in me getting concerned. Perhaps it is because of the nature of my job; I have seen it all and become overprotective.
Nonetheless, I still think schools and homes are responsible for educating students. A word of caution also to those motorists who stop for them; you are encouraging these students to be what they are not in seeking comfort outside their parent or guardians provisions. The end result may be the development on batter—where these students will be required to exchange these lifts for sex or illegal errands. Please, take heed everyone and amend before it’s too late. Remember, there are no free lunches.