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Tighten school safety

Tighten school safety
Highlights

A nursery student crushed to death in a play school elevator is yet another grim reminder of flagrant violation of school safety regulation. The monitoring authorities remain a passive spectator as they receive their regular ‘moola’. Our politicians caught in the crossfire of impetuous discourse of gladiatorial politics find no time to look at what they feel mundane issues.

A nursery student crushed to death in a play school elevator is yet another grim reminder of flagrant violation of school safety regulation. The monitoring authorities remain a passive spectator as they receive their regular ‘moola’. Our politicians caught in the crossfire of impetuous discourse of gladiatorial politics find no time to look at what they feel mundane issues.

Overwhelmed by the dust and din of modern life, media washes of its responsibility by flashing it on the day’s headlines. The hapless children suffer at the altar of official neglect and private profiteering that allows little or no regard for child safety at school.

As the Supreme Court observed in Avinash Mehrotra Versus Union of India & Others, 2004, “educating a child requires more than a teacher and a blackboard, or a classroom and a book. The right to education requires that a child study in a quality school, and a quality school certainly should pose no threat to a child’s safety. “

Parents should not be compelled to send their children to dangerous schools, nor should children suffer compulsory education in unsound buildings. The State must ensure that children suffer no harm in exercising their fundamental right. The right to education incorporates the provision of safe schools.

The Supreme Court in guidelines issued in April, 2009 clearly stated that every school should carry out a structural evaluation periodically. This ghastly accident would not have occurred subjecting the parents to perennial sadness if regular evaluation was conducted by the school management and corrective measures taken. But as the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) observed, “ in our country, despite the Supreme Court guidelines and the safety norms laid down in the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, there’s been very little effort to implement them.”

Most of the schools are vulnerable to multiple mishaps like fire accidents, stampedes, buildings caving in, traffic accidents, corporal punishment, and now even lift accidents. This incident cannot be even called as an accident. If the management was conscious, the child would not have faced this situation. It’s a clear case of culpable homicide.

Each and every child should receive good education free from fear of safety and security. Ensure that more stringent rules and regulations are framed keeping in mind the safety of the students. Ensure that such standards of safety are at par with the highest standards set up anywhere in the world. Ensure that such standards are in fact enforced regularly for the safety and protection of children in classrooms.

The government should mandate independent social audit of school safety. Periodic evaluation should not only be mandatory but punitive action needs to be taken on erring managements. The present system of irresponsible and reckless manner in which permissions and clearances are given should be immediately done away with.

Individual accountability should be fixed on officials to ensure proper safety at schools. Child goes to school for joyful learning. But the child and the parent cannot be subjected to a constant fear of some or other hazard waiting to happen at school.

Editor: Prof K Nageshwar
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