Manda­tory sys­tem sought to en­sure chil­dren’s safety in pri­vate schools

De­spite the CBSE’s new guide­lines, stake­hold­ers ques­tion whether they will be duly im­ple­mented.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

who have shared their con­cerns. We are fur­ther re­view­ing our se­cu­rity mea­sures as we want all our chil­dren safe and se­cure and would never com­pro­mise on the same.” The school has is­sued fresh iden­tity cards for par­ents with­out which no guardian will be al­lowed en­try in the school. It has in­tro­duced a “buddy sys­tem” in pri­mary classes to en­sure that two kids move to­gether to the wash­room.

In the af­ter­math of the ter­ror­ist at­tack on the Army Pub­lic School, Pe­shawar, in De­cem­ber 2014, the CBSE came up with guide­lines for con­struc­tion of bound­ary walls around school premises (the Pe­shawar school did not have a bound­ary wall), and af­ter that the in­spec­tion com­mit­tee be­came strict in scru­ti­n­is­ing af­fil­i­a­tions for new schools. How­ever, par­ents ques­tion the po­ten­tial of the CBSE, with over 21,000 schools, to con­tin­u­ously keep a check on com­pli­ance. The CBSE gives af­fil­i­a­tion ex­ten­sion for three years ini­tially and for five years af­ter that.

Dr Dhiren­dra Mishra, pro­gramme head, Life Ed­u­care, a con­sul­tancy firm that works with pri­vate schools, said, “Pri­vate schools charge high fees, but it isn’t manda­tory for them to in­vest back in safety. They just have to fol­low the na­tional build­ing code and mu­nic­i­pal norms to en­sure in­fras­truc­tural safety. Schools, like any other build­ings, are sup­posed to fol­low the Na­tional Build­ing Code (NBC) and the safety stan­dards are ma­jorly gov­erned by the NBC.”

In­dus­try ex­perts say that pri­vate schools in Tier 1 cit- ies are still bet­ter com­pared to smaller towns. The govern­ment does not pro­vide fi­nan­cial aid to pri­vate schools in other tier cities and man­dates schools to pro­vide free ed­u­ca­tion to 25% stu­dents un­der the Right to Ed­u­ca­tion Act2009. This is also a rea­son that schools are now left with lit­tle sur­plus funds for safety and wel­fare.

Dr Mishra said, “The whole coun­try knows that pri­vate schools make money; why not make them ac­count­able for their prof­its and ask them to in­vest back on the safety and se­cu­rity of chil­dren and staff? De­spite be­ing a so­cial ser­vice and not for profit sec­tor, banks pro­vide loans for build­ing schools. Schools mort­gage their prop­erty and ob­tain bank loans. Have we heard of peo­ple tak­ing bank loan for do­ing char­ity? This is a joke. Even our neigh­bour­ing coun­tries like Nepal, Pak­istan and Bangladesh have their pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem ‘for profit’.” Su­mit Vohra, an ed­u­ca­tion ac­tivist, said, “Schools have been bla­tantly vi­o­lat­ing guide­lines. Every staff mem­ber needs to pro­vide two char­ac­ter cer­tifi­cates from ed­u­ca­tion­ists or any other re­spectable mem­ber of so­ci­ety, un­re­lated to them. But most of schools do not fol­low this rule. What makes us con­fi­dent that the CBSE’s new guide­lines will be duly im­ple­mented? It should be manda­tory for schools across the coun­try to have a child pro­tec­tion pol­icy.”

Chi­trakala Acharya, head ser­vices, ChildLine, a child rights NGO, said, “A child pro­tec­tion pol­icy is a must to en­sure that chil­dren are safe in pub­lic spa­ces.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.