Children's Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
MOST institutions of learning, including pre-schools, have incorporated trips for children as part of the curriculum. School trips play an important role in the learning process. They enable children comprehend what is taught in class.
Due to financial constraints, most schools do not have their own buses. In the process, such trips have to be undertaken by hiring and using public service vehicles. However, what is of concern is the criteria used by school administrators to hire public service vehicles when they have to ferry children around, especially much younger children like pre-schoolers. Below are a few reactions to last week’s article entitled ‘Kids safety vital on trips’.
Natasha M of Lusaka has observed that most drivers of public service vehicles hired to ferry children during school trips are usually intoxicated. It is generally believed that it is easier to bargain with the ‘drunk’ drivers for cheap fares when compared to those who are sober. Despite knowing that their vehicles have been hired for school trips with very young children on board; these drivers are still reckless without taking into consideration the safety of the children passengers. It is like the priority of some drivers is to quickly get to the intended destination with the children and thereafter continue with their business.
“We understand that these public service vehicles are in business to make money and profit but they should have consideration for the many young lives in their hands. At the end of the day, once a life has been lost through reckless driving, it cannot be replaced, while material things can be easily replaced,” she said.
Natasha also felt that to protect children on school trips, chaperones should be mandatory to always accompany children regardless of age. She observed that sometimes older children often do not have chaperones to guide their behaviour. It should be the responsibility of institutions of learning to provide chaperones regardless of the age of the children because the absence of chaperones is what sometimes results in disorderly and dangerous behaviour on public service vehicles.
She assumed that the lack of proper adult guidance also contributes to extreme cases where some children end up sitting on each other’s laps or standing up unnecessarily and perform other reckless acts while a vehicle is in motion. School administrators and drivers should all be held accountable for the safety of children on public service vehicles all the time.
Dear Ms Chilufya, there is need for schools to be adequately sensitised on the dangers they expose our children to when they pick public service vehicles that do meet the safety regulations as demanded by Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA). While others might do it out of ignorance, for others it is for profit at the expense of the children’s lives. They want to pay the minimum fare. It would be interesting if legislation was passed to empower the public to impound vehicles that are not roadworthy and to report them to the police.
Ms Chilufya, I would like to suggest that administrators of schools are encouraged to buy insurance to cover pupils when they undertake such trips using public service vehicles. Do parents even take time to find out if the schools have insurance to cover pupils before they undertake any school trip?
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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