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Principals slam new school bus safety norms

Some principals said parents should have the right to decide the mode of transportation for their children.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: November 20, 2013 5:03:19 am

A day after a government resolution (GR) issued by the school education department putting the onus of safe transportation of children to schools and back home on school principals,several principals have dubbed some of the rules as ‘impractical’.

Principals said they could not be held responsible for the safety of each student with regard to their transportation and that it was difficult to ensure that students would only use school buses.

The GR,issued on Monday,asked schools to disallow students from travelling to schools in vehicles other than certified school buses. It implied that private vehicles like auto-rickshaws,taxis and vans would not be allowed to ferry children to schools.

“Forming a policy is one thing,but implementing it is another. Making school buses mandatory is not the solution,because parents may not follow it. Moreover,the principal is the academic authority and it is the responsibility of the parents and management to ensure safety of students,” said M P Sharma,principal of G D Somani School,Cuffe Parade.

A few exemptions include students,who walk to school or use public transport,where the school is unable to provide a bus route,and those who have to leave the school in case of an emergency.

Ragini Mahajan,principal of Saraswati School,Chembur,said it was not possible for school buses to go in every direction to pick children. “My students come from Trombay,Shivaji Nagar and several other places,so they do not have an option,but to use private means of transport,” she said.

Mahajan added that principals could only ensure that all safety precautions were taken in school,but once the children left the school premises,safety could not be guaranteed.

Some principals said parents should have the right to decide the mode of transportation for their children and ensure that it was safe. “The cost of private vehicles is cheaper than school buses and it is more convenient as it picks students from their homes. As far as safety is concerned,we can only monitor the buses and see whether all measures are being taken,” said Sylvestor D’Souza,principal of St Lawrence High School and Junior College,Thane (West).

Pointing out practical difficulties,Deepshikha Srivastava,principal of Rajhans Vidyalaya,Andheri,said despite issuing notices to parents against sending their children through private vehicles,almost 50 per cent of the students in her school had opted for private means of transport. “Earlier,we had around 15 buses and 10 private vans,which would drop children to school,but now there are 45 private vans. It is difficult to guarantee safety of all of them,” she said.

Rohan Bhatt,chairman of Children’s Academy group of schools,said there was only a limit to which rules could be implemented. “Thousands of students go to school in private vehicles. How far are you going to go to stop them?” he questioned.

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