Finally, schools get on ‘active’ mode

New Delhi: The CBSE has issued a notice to all affiliated schools this week enlisting guidelines to ensure a child’s safety on school premises.

It is worthwhile mentioning a day later, Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal directed the Delhi government to make security measures mandatory and linked the rules to schools being recognised. He also asked the Delhi Police to waive verification charges so that schools are incentivised to do background checks on their staff.

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One of the most significant factor to note is that Priyank Kanoongo, member-RTE and Education at National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), said that such incidents were not endemic to any particular region but indicated a “national crisis”.

“A student was found murdered in Ranchi. A student drowned in a swimming pool at Bhopal. Such incidents are happening everywhere, in urban and rural schools. But it happens more so in private schools because there is a lack of vigilance,” said Kanoongo.

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A major reason for this, according to him, is a lack of parents’ intervention in private schools, affecting accountability.

“Under the RTE, the formation of a School Management Committee (SMC) is mandated for government schools, but private schools are exempted. This means that around 73% of schools in India have SMCs, while others don’t. And most of schools that do not have SMCs are private schools,” he said.

But when one takes into consideration recent incidents, many schools are involving parents in committees set up to improve security.

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“We have time and again taken suggestions from parents on security but of late, parents are still anxious so we have decided to include some parents in our security committee. Many have agreed to even visit the school on a regular basis to ensure security is in place and we have agreed to come to a conclusion on the same,” said Rohan Bhat, principal of Children’s Academy in Mumbai’s Malad.

The CBSE guidelines have asked schools to restrict access to their buildings and monitor any visitors.

We do not let our students leave unless it is with a person holding a valid parent ID card, or with people who have been authorised by the parents,” said SK Bhattacharya, secretary of Delhi’s Bal Bharati Public School and president of the School Action Committee.

One of the directives and suggestions that have come from most law enforcement agencies is verification of staff to check for criminal records.

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