While Transport contractors are making a hue and cry over the UT Administration’s directive to appoint female attendants in school buses, two schools in the city already have female attendants in their buses for the last few years.
In 2013, Carmel Convent in Sector 9 had, without any demand from parents, hired female attendants for all its 25 buses for the safety of girl students. The system has been functioning without any hitch, says Clara Lobo, the school’s head of administration.
The transport contractors argue that the security of female attendants would be an issue and the parents would have to pay extra by way of bus fee. But Lobo says that none of their attendants had ever complained of insecurity, and the school wasn’t charging the parents extra for the facility.
Her only concern is that she will now have to remove some of the attendants and hire new ones to meet the administration’s guidelines that the attendants should be at least matriculates.
Sangeeta, principal of the Strawberry Fields World School in Sector 26, said, “We have been providing the facility of female attendants for the last three years. These attendants are our permanent employees.”
In September, Shobha Bhandari, 22, will complete two years working as a female attendant on a bus of Carmel Convent. Not once has she faced any difficulty travelling with the driver and the conductor.
“Before taking up the job, I used to think how I would work alone with a driver and a conductor. But now they are like family and I don’t feel unsafe,” said Shobha, who is also studying for her bachelor’s degree.
She leaves home at 6 am, and walks for 30 minutes to reach the school bus which is parked in sector 21. At 6.30, the bus starts on its round to pick students. Shobha makes sure that the children are comfortable in the bus, she also records who all have turned up and who haven’t.
This helps her check that every child has boarded the bus after the school is over.
At 7.30 am, the bus reaches the school gates. Shobha ensures that the children get safely inside the school. Then she, along with other female attendants, manages traffic outside the school till 8 am.
From 8 am to 1.10 pm, there is a free time. The buses leave the school at 1.10 pm to drop kindergarten students. These return well in time to pick up students of senior classes at 2.30 pm.
Shobha travels in the school bus until the last child is dropped safely. Around 4 pm, the bus drops her back in Sector 21.
Asked how they spend their free time between the bus trips, Priya Devi, 26, said, “We wait inside the buses, or sit in a park near the school. We all sit together, we talk, do knitting and some of us study. During lunch time, we share our tiffins with drivers and conductors.’’
Krishan Kumar, driver and owner of one of the buses, said after the school appointed female attendants, “our job became easy, we do not have to worry about children, we only focus on our work”.
Mohali DC holds meet on girls safety
Mohali Deputy Commissioner T P S Sidhu on Thursday held a meeting with owners, conductors and drivers of school buses plying in the district and asked them to adopt adequate measures to ensure safety of girls. “The bus owners were asked to install CCTV cameras and GPS devices in the buses. We have also asked them to deploy female attendants in buses which have female passengers. They have also been asked to behave courteously with students, especially girls,” said Sidhu. ENS