Principals,auto unions oppose revised school transport policy

Term it ‘mindless’ and ‘urban centric’,to approach CM and education minister.

Written by Express News Service | Pune | Published: November 20, 2013 2:40:00 am

The forums of school principals have vehemently opposed the revised school transport policy of the state that holds school heads responsible for students’ safety. Besides,autorickshaw and taxi unions have also come out strongly against the policy owing to its ambiguous provisions for means like autorickshaws and taxis for transporting students.

Terming the revised policy as “mindless”,these forums have decided to approach School Education Minister Rajendra Darda soon to register their protest.

“It is mindless to hold school principals responsible for any untoward incident outside schools. How can we have control over things outside the campus? At the best,authorities can ensure transport safety if schools have their own fleet of buses. There are hardly a few per cent schools in the state which have such a facility. What about the rest of the schools,which have to rely on public and private transport for ferrying students,” said Abasaheb Jangale,state leader of principals.

Shantaram Pokharkar,another principals’ leader,said the school education department has imposed revised school bus policy on stakeholders without considering pros and cons of school transportation. “We are not willing to shoulder such a weird responsibility. We will convey our protest to the education minister soon after holding a state-level meeting,” he said.

The revised policy announced on Monday not only puts onus of students’ safety on principals but also stipulates school authorities to employ adequate number of traffic wardens in consultation with traffic police to regulate traffic and safe passage of children at own expense.

A principal of a local school,who did not wish to be named,said the higher-ups in the education department have framed new school transport policy “within four walls of air conditioned office” and without taking into account the ground realities. “Under the policy,schools have to carry out the task of traffic regulation which is the resposibility by local self-governing bodies and traffic police. It is bizarre,” she said.

Meanwhile,autorickshaw and taxi unions have deiced to approach Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to discuss the issue. “The revised policy,it appears,will spell a doom for auto and taxi drivers. The policy is urban centric and has taken into consideration only rich parents. Big schools in metros and a few other cities have their own transportation facility,but most of the schools depend on autorickshaws and taxis for transporting students. We will register a protest with the Chief Minister soon,” said labour leader Sharad Rao.

Arguing that autorickshaws and other private means of transportation are safe and time-tested,Rao challenged the education department to show statistics to prove otherwise.

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