CBSE guidelines: schools must act

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has done well to begin putting in place a system to ensure children’s safety on school premises. It has constituted a committee to frame “comprehensive guidelines” for the safety and security of students in CBSE schools across the country. A little over a fortnight ago, it had called on affiliated schools to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in school premises, limit entry of outsiders into schools, get psychometric evaluations and police verification done for all employees, and to compile and submit online a detailed report, including results of such evaluations and safety audits. School authorities were warned that failure to put in place these guidelines within two months would result in the school’s disaffiliation from the CBSE. The CBSE guidelines came in the wake of two children being subjected to horrific violence in two separate incidents at school. The incidents sparked enormous public outrage and concern, prompting the CBSE to announce guidelines to ensure the safety and security of children in schools.

While the CBSE’s response is commendable, school authorities have complained that the guidelines lack clarity. They are unsure, for instance, on which psychometric tests to use and how frequently these need to be administered. The committee that the CBSE has now set up will hopefully clarify these issues. It is expected to consult the Ministry of Human Resource Development before issuing more comprehensive guidelines. School authorities have also criticised the CBSE for its two-month deadline. While it is true that some issues, such as raising resources for CCTV, need time for implementation, school authorities must realise that ensuring the safety and security of our children in schools is an urgent matter. Delays would leave more children vulnerable to sexual predators. There has been far too much delay already.

Children spend most of their waking hours in school. School authorities must therefore be made accountable for their safety on their premises. Yet, such safety cannot be achieved without the participation of parents. Schools must involve them in the process. Parents-Teachers Associations should monitor safety measures put in place by school managements. Parents must be told to respect rules. It is not uncommon for parents to depute a neighbour, a driver or a friend to pick up their child, without bothering to inform the school of the change in routine. It is only if parents, teachers, school management and support staff work together that our children will be safe in schools.
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