Today is Monday and the countdown to the opening of the new school year has begun in earnest. One can imagine the distressed and anxious posture into which thousands of parents have been plunged; sometimes finding themselves in unanticipated problems or simply those that are far from their making. What immediately comes to mind, in a generally cash-strapped situation such as that many parents find themselves, is the difficulties being faced by parents to pay for the ever-rising costs of school equipment notably books. And to add salt to injury, even those with money do not necessarily have access to books which, in many noted cases, are still hard to come by. There is also the problem of finding places, especially for transfer cases either because of the transfer of parents or students obliged to change school because of their new position – having obtained a new certificate warranting moving to another institution – or simply because their school no longer offers subject combinations or specialties they intend to follow.
As if these problems were not already enough, the new hassle created by the rising Boko Haram insurgency has thrown the country into a new security turmoil with school children being the most vulnerable not only because many of them are being used as bomb carriers, but also because of the possibility of infiltrating school environments, the generalized destruction of school buildings as been observed in the northern parts of the country or even the taking of children hostages. The Boko Haram ideology, which is against western education, makes schools an easy target; so concerns about security in the school milieu are expected to be of the utmost concern. These security issues are not the direct responsibility of parents even if their actions and counseling to their progeny can go a long way in minimizing the nefarious effects of the sect. But the parents’ responsibility and that of other actors and the public authorities in this return-to-school period is most specially summoned in other areas such as public transportation because in the coming days hundreds of thousands of our youthful compatriots will be hitting the road, either returning from the long holidays or returning to their new schools.
Transport companies are, understandably warming up for good business. But their responsibility in ensuring that the new school year begins without hiccups has never been so evident. For one thing, the nature of many roads in this rainy season in many parts of the country is, to say the least, disturbing! TV images tell the story even better as we see even Four-wheel drive vehicles unable to find their way through muddy passages that were once used as roads. The pictures from most parts of the North-West and South-West Regions are simply scary. Here, students already have an indication of what awaits them including digging to let vehicles come out of mud, trekking for long distances to enable the vehicles make some advances and even spending nights along the way because of stuck vehicles which may only be moved out with the use of heavy-duty equipment. This ugly picture should not hide other forms of irresponsibility even on good roads. They have their own share of fear, least not being the overly propensity for transport companies to over-load vehicles or to undermine some very useful tips such as technical controls before vehicles hit the road. Insecurity here is not only about those travelling.
The massive presence of students on highways and even on major streets also calls for caution from drivers. There are also new habits which could gravely undermine road security especially within the urban milieu. The generalized use of earphones is already causing some hair raising especially as motorists say when they hoot in times of danger there is no response because hearing is gravely impaired by the wearing of earphones