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Parents fret about their kids' safety as Delhi's schools turn fatal

Rising incidents have brought security measures on school premises in the capital under the scanner

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Parents fret about their kids' safety as Delhi's schools turn fatal
Police stand guard at Ryan International School, Gurugram, during a protest on Saturday
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Once considered a safe haven for children, schools are fast turning into places parents dread sending their wards to. The latest incident involving a Gurugram school, where a minor was found with his throat slit, has brought into the spotlight the lack of safety measures and security lapses within campus boundaries.

Ryan International School, where the alleged murder of a seven-year-old student took place, was riddled with serious slips including no boundary wall shielding the campus from a liquor vendor behind the school. Children have also complained of bus drivers and conductors having full access to washrooms on the campus meant for students. Another branch of the same school in Vasant Kunj was also in the news last year when six-year-old Devansh Kakora fell to his death in a water tank.

This year has seen a spurt of incidents in which the negligence of educational institutions has come to fore, including students sneaking in mobile phones in classrooms, bullying of classmates, passing lewd comments and accidents. While schools charge exorbitant fees, they often fail to keep children safe as is evident from cases where some of them have even lost their lives.

In August, a class IV student of GD Goenka International School, Indirapuram, Arman Sehgal died after falling in the second-floor corridor of the campus outside his classroom. A five-year-old child died in January 2016 after falling into a septic tank in a MCD-run school in Kapashera.

Bullying has also become another area of concern for parents who allege that more often than not, schools try to brush it under the carpet and "coax" them to reach a compromise in order to protect the school's image. With no check on what students are doing, minor altercations between classmates have sometimes accelerated into gun battles as happened in a Ghaziabad school in February. A class XI student smuggled in a gun on campus and hit another boy over a tiff that took place between them a few days ago. Recently, a video of students from Pathways School, Noida surfaced on social media in which a class X student could be seen slapping a fellow class mate while others were cheering him on and recording the act on their mobile phones.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?

  • File an FIR with the police.
     
  • Approach The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, mandated under Section 31 of the Right to Education Act, 2009 to take necessary steps as provided under Section 15 of the DCPCR. You can also approach the state-level commissions.
     
  • Seek the intervention of jurisdictional courts to direct the school to adhere to its obligations.

EXPERT SPEAK

When hiring staff such as drivers and peons, most schools do not follow the rule that requires at least two certificates from an educationist or any other respectable member of society, not related to the candidate, to certify his/her character.

CCTV cameras must be installed all over the school's premises. This must be accompanied by surveillance either by staff or the parents' committee. A live streaming of the CCTV footage should be made available to parents.

It should be mandatory for schools across the country to have a Child Protection Policy (CPP). As of now it has been adopted only by Delhi based on guidelines by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR).

No adult should be allowed to use the washrooms dedicated to the school's students.
Sumit Vohra, Educationist

PEOPLE SPEAK

Being a cab driver, it's difficult to afford the expenses of a good school. After this case, I'm not sure of my children's safety on school premises. The government should take strict action against the culprits.
Kuldeep Singh, Noida

Education is turning into a mere business and licenses are provided without proper checks. Such incidents in high-profile schools prove that money cannot always buy good service.
Shikha Aggarwal, Patel Nagar

I don't understand why my city is becoming the crime capital. Every day, hundreds of incidents are reported and hundred new issues are raised but no solutions are given by the representatives of our state.
Muhammad Danish, Shadipur

As a parent, safety is my most important concern. The school's administration has to be strict to maintain discipline. The accused should be punished because a 7-year-old's life deserved better.
Nahida Shah, Jangpura

As a parent, I am worried about my child's safety. This incident clearly shows negligence on the part of the school's authorities. Schools charge such high fees and we can't even expect mere safety.
Priya Iqbal, Gurugram

Punishing the criminal is the government's responsibility but so is making sure the crime does not repeat. I don't want to go to work thinking that my children aren't safe in an educational institution.
Shailendra Kataria, Jagjeet Nagar

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