By Funmi Ajumobi
What is wrong with Nigerian parents?

Last week’s experience of some families was not palatable as two cases of road accidents involving school children were recorded. The first one was where children were thrown out of the school bus even with four teachers in the bus.

Thank God the children have been discharged from hospital though they sustained injuries. The second accident was not widely reported but it did happen at around Maryland at Idiroko Bus stop where school children normally cluster to board Bus Response Transit (BRT buses). A red bus, with the inscription, ‘LAG bus’, ran into the children and wounded about four of them who we learned are in JSS 1 from schools inside Maryland compound. Two of them were in coma because of the impact of the accident. The driver, we learned, beaten to pulp.
Though, we don’t pray for incidents like this, what are parents doing to protect children from road accidents? Yes, parents cannot be with children 24hrs, but why do parents prefer to take their wards to attend long distance schools? There are many schools, both private and public, around us, but many children can be seen trekking long distances or boarding public buses for kilometres before getting to school. This is injurious to children. What type of result do parents expect from these children who have expended their energy before getting to school? What training have they given to these children on road safety? How many parents themselves can boast of walking safely on Nigerian roads full of reckless drivers?The truth is that anyone familiar with the poor condition of the roads know the way school children struggle to board the BRT buses and many of them enter with bruises.
There are schools in every street and community and these are located at no more than one kilometre of one another, which was one major reason schools were opened in almost every hamlet in the country. But  today, it does appear that many children still travel long distances to and fro school because parents prefer to take children to walk long distances in the search for ‘standard school’ at the expense of their children’s lives. Unfortunately, many parents are missing it by measuring standard with gigantic building. If that is what parents want, let them keep these children in boarding schools which is safer for them not minding the recent kidnappings that happened.
The second incident still boils down to the same issue- careless protection of school children by parents who just leave their children 100% in the care of schools. What excursion are 45 children going for in a 18-seater bus? Of course, collecting fees from parents means schools must look for somewhere to take them to. Which excursion are primary school pupils going for? I have seen many of these schools bring primary school children on excursion to my media house but I make it a point of duty to always tell people bringing them that they are just suffering the children because they don’t know the essence of the excursion because many of them just yawn throughout their stay.
Parents reserve the right to refuse the school from taking their children on excursion. Tell the school that your own children are not ready until they get to secondary school. If they insist, pay them the money which many of the schools want but leave a standing order that they not take your children.
The issue is the standard of running of public and private schools throughout the country which has created a culture of impunity.   People do what they like knowing fully well that nothing will happen. There are no lay down standards for conveying or transporting students from one place to another and, if there are, since Nigeria knows how to create laws without implementation, why are children transported in horrible buses to and fro school and for excursions?
Is field excursion part of school curriculum? Why are the schools not required to provide a standard transport system before the Ministry of Education gives approval?
Why should the Ministry overlook something as important that endangers the lives of innocent pupils who get excited any time their schools organize excursion? Does that mean anything goes for the schools. This state of affairs affects both public and private schools. I have seen public schools in programmes collecting transportation fares and their teachers will just take them across to board public buses. Hardly will one see a public school with a school bus and yet they go on excursions and programmes.
Government should treat this as a matter of urgency to make it mandatory for schools to have standard school buses for school runs and excursions and should also see this as important as the school building. If a community could afford to build classroom blocks, they should be able to buy a standard school bus and private schools who could afford to build a school should have a budget for same
According to a World Health Organisation report, 1.25 million people worldwide lose their lives in road crashes, most of which are preventable and, out of these,  more than 20 percent are children aged 18 and below, earning road traffic fatalities a place at the top three with HIV/AIDS and tropical diseases as one of the deadliest culprits behind untimely deaths.

As we can see, children below the age of 20 are the most affected by road traffic related accidents. The world is thus losing a significant proportion of a future adult generation and it is believed that if something could be done to reduce the number of lives of children on the threshold of adulthood that the world loses every day, attainment of Sustainable Development Goals and their targets would become more realistic as Nigerian children eagerly wait for implementation of SDGs.

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