State govt yet to take steps to ensure child safety in schools
The recent incident at Ryan International School, in which a child was killed by a school bus driver in the toilet of the school, has shocked the country. In this backdrop, where Guwahati and its schools are concerned, the state government has not yet taken any steps to ensure protection of the school going children. Inspector of Schools, Kamrup Metro, Buli Gogoi Bhuyan, talking to G Plus said, “The government had not yet issued any notice for any new safety norms for the schools.” Consequent to the incident, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had issued a notice to all affiliated schools this week enlisting guidelines to ensure child safety in school premises. G Plus had asked Bhuyan whether the Assam state government has also issued any such notice. Bhuyan said that CCTV cameras have been made mandatory but only during exams but regarding safety of the children no new steps have been taken.
Talking about the safety scenario in city schools, the inspector of schools said that she feels the schools are safe and stressing on the safety of children in the toilets of the city schools she said, “I feel all the toilets in the city schools are safe as there are separate toilets for students and faculty.” When asked whether there are female attendants who wait outside the toilets while children use them, she said that in private schools there might be such attendants but in government schools there are no such people as there are only chowkidars hired in the fourth gate employee level. Also, there are no cleaners or sweepers in the government schools.
A city-based child consultant working with National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) since the last five years, talking to G Plus in anonymity, said that the children in government schools in Guwahati are vulnerable to all kinds of crime as the situation and infrastructure are pathetic. He further said that talking about private schools, all schools are not safe. Narrating an example, he said that recently he visited Delhi Public School (DPS) Khanapara where he wanted to use a toilet. He was shown into a toilet which even the students use. He said that there should be different toilets for students and faculty and in most of the schools this is not the case. The consultant added that in the school buses there should be female conductors to ensure a friendly environment for the students but in most of the city school buses this is not the case. The consultant said that the CBSE had issued a notice that all the employees of schools should be verified by the police and psychometric evaluation should be done. But according to him, in most of the private schools in Guwahati police verification is not done. He said, “I am confident that not a single employee of any private school in Guwahati has undergone any kind of psychometric evaluation.” He said that this is a serious issue and the government should seriously make some stringent rules. Even the city schools should ensure that the children are safe when they are in school.
A senior official of the education department, talking to G Plus in anonymity, said that the safety of children in government schools totally depended on the head of the institution. He agreed that there are no cleaners in the school but all the government schools receive a fund every year for maintenance and the heads can accordingly utilise those funds for the hygiene and the safety of the schools. He further said that talking about private schools the Non Government Educational Institutions Regulation and Management Act 2006 is not sufficient to regulate the private schools and the law will have to be reworked to make some stringent guidelines for the private schools.
Well, this officer might be targeting the private schools but the fact remains that that even after the CBSE notice and the country’s outcry regarding children’s safety, the state government has not yet taken any new step for the protection and safety of children in schools.