Get serious

The shocking death of eight-year old Bangalore girl Namita, who was crushed under the wheels of her school van recently, is a grim reminder of gross negligence children are subjected to.

The bubbly girl was run over by the rear wheel of the Swaraj Mazda van as she bent to pick up her lunch bag which the attendant had dropped out of the window and which had rolled down under the van. Namita screamed out and swooned, and it was all over within minutes as the driver moved bus – neither he nor the attendant had found it fit to ensure that the child was safe and secure before proceeding further.It goes without saying that it is the complete responsibility of the school, the driver and attendant of the bus to ensure that children are picked up from the school and reached home safety. The attendant should get down from the bus and make himself abundantly sure that each student disembarks and reaches home safe. The crew should be given training in this regard. It is the responsibility of the school managements to ensure that safety norms are in place, followed diligently. and that each child is safe and secure at the end of the day. 

The unfortunate death is a direct consequence of the schools treating the issue of safety casually. The schools are expected to set up safety committees comprising teachers and parents. Many schools have not formed the committees and those which have, may not meet frequently or review their norms and ways of implementation. The committee has to see that training/awareness programmes are conducted at regular intervals so that the drivers and attendants are told of their responsibility. The setting up of the committee is a must under the Karnataka Motor Vehicles (Conditions for Vehicles engaged in transport of school children) Rules, 2012 which came into being in May, 2013 following a direction by the Supreme Court to State governments to take steps to ensure safety of children. Unfortunately, the Karnataka Rules does not mention the role of the bus attendant. It is time that the state transport department revisits the Rules and clearly includes in it the role of the attendant – which is that he gets down from the bus at every stop and ensures that the child reaches safe hands of the parents. Ultimately, the school managements need to take responsibility that no child suffers the fate that befell on the unlucky Namita.

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