Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

Govt scraps GR putting onus of students’ safety on principals

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Posted: December 19, 2013 3:42 am

THE state government Wednesday scrapped the Government Resolution (GR) on the school bus policy,which had made principals responsible for the safety of children travelling in school buses. Other aspects of the GR,relating to the safety of school children,will,however,be enforced.

During the winter session in Nagpur,school education minister Rajendra Darda said,“The state government had stayed the GR on November 18.” Following pressure from members across political parties who dismissed the policy as ‘impractical’,he announced the scrapping of the GR.

The policy had stipulated that the school principal “shall be responsible for safe transportation of school children and shall take appropriate steps for day-to-day supervision of the manner in which the transportation of students is carried out to and from the school”.

The state issued the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles (Regulations for School Buses) Rules,2011,on March 22,2011,in English. The state subsequently issued a GR,calling for implementation of the same,on September 14,2011. While the original document was in English,the GR was the Marathi version of the same. The state,however,realised that the translated Marathi document had several errors and it took them two years to come out with the corrected version in Marathi on November 18 this year. A GR was issued to this effect. On November 26,however,another GR,staying the November 18th GR,was issued.

The matter was raised in the Assembly by NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad. He said,“It was unfair to burden school teachers and headmasters with such odd jobs,which require keeping a tab on the role of bus conductors and operators.”

Members across ruling and opposition parties came in support,seeking immediate roll-back of the decision. Initially,Darda assured the Assembly that a decision would be taken shortly. But members demanded scrapping of the GR immediately. Accordingly,Darda announced the decision to scrap the GR.

The protesting principals and headmasters in the city were relieved with the decision.

S C Kedia,member of the Unaided Schools’ Forum,said: “It was unfair on the part of the state government to hold principals responsible for the safety of students in school buses. The principal is an academic authority. I hope they now come out with logical guidelines that would be acceptable to all stakeholders.”

The Maharashtra State Secondary and Higher Secondary School Principals’ Association (MSSHSSPA) had also threatened to boycott class X and XII examinations to mark their protest.

Withdrawing their protest,Prashant Redij,member of MSSHSSPA,said,“We had not completely opposed the GR. Our only demand was that everyone’s opinion should be taken before the policy is implemented. They must now call the stakeholders for a discussion,take their suggestions and then frame the rules.”

Meanwhile,the School Bus Owners’ Association (SBOA) have threatened to move court if they are penalised in the absence of school bus safety norms. “The GR should not have been scrapped. The government should have debated on this and implemented the GR. If principals do not want to take responsibility,then who will ensure the safety of the children? According to the rules,there has to be a school transport committee,which is headed by the principal. The state government and the transport department have been harassing us for the past three years continued…

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