Against the backdrop of the sexual abuse of a four-year-old girl by a school bus attendant recently, the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) is proposing the government to induct the school bus policy into the Right To Education Act (RTE), making it mandatory for schools (even pre-primary) to comply with the school bus guidelines. Will the DPE proposal make girl students feel safer in school buses? dna explores...
Don't forget that boys too can be abused
I agree that the DPE proposal to bring school bus policy under the RTE Act will make it all the more safer for girl students. However, what everybody is forgetting is that boys also can be abused. Parents should do surprise checks in the school buses. Once in a while they should also check and get a first-hand experience on what their child is going through on the school bus. It is mandatory for schools to form transport committees and parents also have to be part of these committees. We should give the representatives of Bal Sena (peer support group in schools) an additional responsibility of keeping a check on school buses. At present, there are about 140 schools which have Bal Sena groups. In case of any kind of violation in safety of children, they have the right to protect themselves under the framework of Juvenile Justice Act 2000. If child protection right is abused, it is the violation of Child Protection Act.
--Anuradha Sahasrabudhe, child rights activist
Schools responsible for safety of children
Looking at today's situation, where even a four-year-old is not safe, it has become very necessary to have strict laws in place to save children from sexual abuse. It will be a welcome move to bring the school bus policy under the RTE, which will make all schools strictly follow the bus guidelines. Schools cannot just shrug off the responsibility saying that they are outsourcing the school bus service. After all the school authorities have the responsibility of the safety of children. Nowadays, it has become so stressful for parents on how there child will be going to school and coming back home. The school bus is a safer option, but if there are such dangers lurking how can be a child safe. I think it is better that government steps in and takes some concrete measures to safeguard children's safety on school buses.
--Minetta Patil, executive officer, Bal Kalyan Sanstha
It's the dual responsibility of school and parents
With the child abuse cases on the rise and looking at the parents' anger to have stricter laws, it has become very necessary to take drastic measures. It is the dual responsibility of the school as well as parents for the child's safety while they are on their way to school, on the school premises and on the way back home. The pre-primary school which is not within the ambit of any law, should also be brought under the RTE. The act to regulate pre-primary section of education is pending with the government and we hope the law will be passed in the next two months. Our proposal to government is to bring the school bus policy under the RTE Act, so we get power to take action against the defaulting schools. We do have child protection act and Juvenile Justice Act 2000, to protect girls and boys from any kind of injustice. Parents can also register their complaints on the concerned website. We also have the transport committee at the school level, but at present the schools are showing a lethargic attitude towards it. The schools cannot shrug off the responsibility of the safety of students while aboard the school bus. It is necessary to bring all kind of school transportation services under some regulation for the safety of children.
--Mahavir Mane, state director (primary education)
With regulations in place, schools will be serious
Any types of school transportation services regardless of the school, should come under some regulation and follow certain mandatory school bus guidelines. If there is a regulatory body to watch over school transportation services, the parents will feel more safer to send their children to school by bus. It is very disturbing to hear about the recent incident wherein a four-year-old girl was abused by two school bus attendants. With certain regulations in place, the schools will become serious to follow the guidelines for the safety of their students and there will be pressure on them. The regulations will also deter people from indulging in such acts of sexual abuse.
--Ketan Gala, founder director, Leapbridge Education
Schools cannot shy away from their responsibilities
Definitely bringing the school bus policy under the RTE Act will institute some regulation. Not only girls but even boys are vulnerable on the school buses. I don't know how the logistics will work but for schools also the first priority is the safety of their children in the campus and on the school buses. I don't agree with schools shrugging off the responsibility saying that their school bus service is outsourced to a private body. We have to find a way for the safety of students. These kind of incidents are happening quite often. It is a complex and difficult issue to manage but we have to do it for the safety of children. With a regulatory body, everyone will become more accountable and it is in the interest of students.
--Madhavi Kapur, trustee, Aman Setu School
- The policy will make it mandatory to have female drivers and attendants for school buses and form a transport committee at the school level
- It will give direct power to DTE to take action against defaulting schools