What parents and other stake-holders say...

What parents and other stake-holders say...

A sheer increase in the number of safety guidelines does not promise safety of their children.

Parents and principals are baffled alike with the innumerous safety guidelines flooding from different wings of the government. Finding several of these guidelines impractical, they pin their blame on lack of coordination between government departments, undermining the voice of stakeholders and administrative rhetoric. 

It is not as though they have dismissed the spirit in which these measures have been drafted. They are guided by caution and refuse to be carried away by theoretical ideas of safety. 

Indeed, how many of these guidelines could actually be implemented by school? S Kavitha, a parent is not satisfied with assurances on paper. Her two boys study at Sree Cauvery School, Indiranagar. One is in class four and the other in UKG. As she sees it, safety measures such as installation of CCTV cameras and hiring more security guards are only token measures. "CCTVs are really not enough to ensure children’s safety unless a school has teachers and principals who genuinely care for the children.”

The guideline that has elicited much debate is that of installation of CCTVs. Every principal has the same apprehension: How can non elite schools afford such infrastructure? Also, even among the elite schools, who should bear the burden of the extra expenditure incurred for the additional infrastructure?

Private schools have already hinted at an increase in fee owing to these measures to be put in place. Take the case of an aided school for instance. Here, students come from humble backgrounds. Education nearly free. School is barely able to meet the expenditure. Jayaanna, Administrative Officer of Rani Saraladevi School, Jayangar explains the scenario: “We have 40 classrooms in the school. Since ours is an aided institution and students are getting free education here we cannot burden parents to shell out money for this. In such cases the government should permit us to raise money from donations outside through voluntary groups.” 

Besides, insistence on a lady teacher along with the physical instructor to accompany students for sports events or for deputation of additional staff for education trips in the city too posed a burden on schools, according to him. “Schools will find it difficult to let go of two teachers in the same day for a single event. They have to allow circumstantial flexibility and leave it to the discretion of the principal. This will also encourage teachers to go the extra mile to follow regulations as opposed to a rigid diktat issued by the government.” The government should immediately call a meeting of heads of the institutions and discuss the guidelines in detail before coming up with a set of consolidated guidelines, he opined.
 Until then, he has already spoken to teachers, sensitised his male colleagues and has made ID cards along with photo proof compulsory for all parents coming to pick up their children from school. Highlighting another important aspect, he said the safety does not end within the compound of the school. For, students get eve teased while waiting at bus stops near the school. The police should also actively join in monitoring these places, he added. 

M A Khan, principal, KK English High School, Varthur is simply stumped by the simultaneous guidelines issued by the police department and the education department. There is lack of coordination between the departments on the issue, he says, pointing out a number of flaws: “One of the police guidelines says that schools need to put in place as many as 66 security guards in two shifts. These guidelines are meant for big schools with big infrastructure. How can all schools comply with this guideline?” Khan received the police guidelines on Friday.

Referring to installation of security cameras in school buses, appointing floor vigilance officers is impractical and will lead to huge cost, he said. “We already have put in place a number of security cameras in the school. However installing them in buses has a number of logistical problems. Also these so called vigilance officers will have to be appointed separately and cannot be recruited from the existing school staff . This will pose huge financial burden for schools like us that charge just Rs 600 as fees,” said Khan.

Amit Chandramouly, a student of DPS North Class 8, chips in: “Incidents such as the one at Vibgyor should not happen and they are indeed really bad. As part of safety measures, kids should not be left alone and should always have ayahs or guardians around them.” Moving around in groups would also help in creating a safe environment, according to him.

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