A government resolution (GR) issued by the school education department Monday has asked schools to disallow students coming in vehicles other than a certified school bus.
The GR,which stipulates 30 other conditions,has made the school principal responsible for safe transportation of children to school and back home. The new GR means private vehicles such as autorickshaws,taxis and vans will not be allowed to ply children to schools. It has certain exemptions though: students who walk to school or use public transport,where school is unable to provide a bus route and students who are ill,and those who have to leave the school due to emergency.
This is the first time the government has incorporated our suggestion of disallowing private vehicles,which are more dangerous as they hardly follow any safety rules. It is important to see if schools follow this rule and the government is able to ensure it, Anil Garg,president of School Bus Owners Association (SBOA),Mumbai,told Newsline.
The matter had been in court. Due to confusion and difficulties that schools faced in implementing safety rules,the department has issued revised guidelines to bring clarity amongst schools,transporters and even the transport department. The guidelines must be implemented with immediate effect, said a senior official from the school education department.
The GR has been issued following a three-year tussle between school bus owners/contractors and the state transport department. Two GRs were earlier issued in July 2008 and March 2011.
Safety rules too have been revised four times in three years following rising number of school bus accidents. The stringent guidelines were opposed by not just school bus operators,but also parents and the school management. With no clear policy,confusion reigned amongst stakeholders and the SBOA in June moved court against the state for not passing bus safety rules yet.
The petition said the association,an apex body of school bus owners/operators,is not against all the safety rules listed. However,it finds the sudden changes in some of the norms unfair. We want to see if the traffic department follows these rules since they are known for misinterpreting the rules and harassing us, said Garg.
Dos and donts
* Every school will have a transport committee to look into safety issues,
transportation fees,identification of bus stops and vehicle fitness
* The school will sign agreements with transporters and administer the school bus service through the bus administrator
* School authorities will be responsible for conducting one-day refresher course/workshop on first-aid and fire safety and extinguishing techniques twice a year before the commencement of semesters
* The transport contractor will employ female attendants for girls and co-educational schools and male attendants/cleaners for boys schools
* A distinct uniform will be prescribed for the driver,attendants/cleaner. Identity cards must be issued by operator to them
* No eatables or drinks will be offered to the children on the bus by the staff unless provided by the school