July 02, 2012

Let school panels ensure bus safety

Despite recent measures, school bus safety is still a matter of grave concern for parents. With the start of the new academic year, they admit that they still do not feel secure letting their children commute by these buses.

Meanwhile, experts say the responsibility for school bus safety should be given to the school bus committees appointed within the schools.

Shatabdi Bannerjee from Mira Road, whose daughter takes the bus to school every day, said, “Every time I put my child in the school bus, my heart skips a beat thinking about whether she will return safe and sound at the end of the day. But there is no other choice as my husband and I are working professionals who take trains to work.”

Parents who decided to start carpooling their children to school after several school bus mishaps, are now at their wits’ end. Santa Cruz resident and parent Asmita Mogre said, “Worried about school bus safety, four parents in our locality began a carpool. But that has stopped after the petrol price hike. Our children are back to taking the school bus.”

The latest government resolution has stated that schools that do not own their buses but hire buses on contract will no longer be held responsible in case of a mishap. With nearly 80% of schools employing contract buses, this GR has invoked the wrath of parents as they feel that school authorities will wash their hands of their children’s safety and not ensure that mandated norms are in place in the buses.

Experts have recommended that school bus committees formed by schools should be given responsibility to ensure school bus safety. Jayant Jain, president of Forum For Fairness In Education, said, “School bus contractors are appointed by school authorities.

Then why can’t they be held responsible? If schools are not held accountable, they will not look into the appointment of the contractor seriously.

“School bus committees have to be appointed as per government norms and should include all stakeholders like the principal, RTO officer, a parent and the bus operator as well. This committee should be given joint responsibility for child safety,’’ he said.

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