In the year 2017 the whole country was shocked with the news of a little boy, who was found dead with his throat slit in the boy’s bathroom of a prestigious school in Gurugram. Unfortunately, this was not a stand-alone incident in the past decade in India, as repeated reports of crimes and negligence against children in the school premises kept on coming from different part of the country.
Though the Apex court has issued guidelines for safety measures for school children and school transport and recently CBSE too has issued rules for child safety. Still, reports of crime against children kept coming up from many Indian schools.
Possibly in the next 7 to 8 months, schools may reopen for regular classes and again the nation may face the same question – what could be the reasons for Indian school security loopholes? Is there any way that such crimes and incidences of negligence can be avoided in schools?
Replying on this topic, Mr. Atul Mahajan, Director of India’s leading private security company – Miraz Securitas says, “Yes, security loopholes in schools can be stopped by immediate implementations of certain security steps. These steps are as follows”: –
1. Transport Safety Management of School Buses
Transport safety is something that both schools and as well as the parents should address together. In many areas’ parents let private van operators and Riskshawalas to take their child from and to the schools. These vans are not only risky, most of the time they don’t follow traffic rules and worst they cramp kids in the small transport.
Many a time parents don’t even check if proper and timely police verification are been done for these van drivers. Hence parents should stop using these private vehicles as well as schools should strictly disallow the entry of these van drivers in school premises. For school buses, every school must follow the Supreme Court guidelines for school buses like-
1. “SCHOOL BUS” should be written prominently on the back and front of a van or private bus. If it is a hired bus or van by the school, then the transporter must put “ON SCHOOL DUTY” prominently on the vehicle.
2. The bus should have a medical first aid box and a fire extinguisher.
3. The driver should not exceed 50 km in speed.
4. Windows should be fitted with horizontal grills.
5. The bus driver and conductor should be in proper uniform.
6. All vehicles should possess valid annual fitness certificates.
7. The name of the school and contact details must be written on the bus.
8. The bus doors should be fitted with reliable locks.
9. The driver should have a valid license and at least five years experience in driving heavy vehicles.
10. There should be at least one conductor and one trained Aya or on every school bus.
11. Place a GPS on every bus that can be monitor bus movement both school authorities and by the parents.
2. Twice a year do the Safety Checks & Audit
Safety checks must be conducted twice a year and during these checks of audit emphasize should be given to fire safety, security, disaster preparedness.
3. Fire safety
1. Fire exits should be located at convenient, accessible points in every corner and floors in the school building. Extra fire precaution is needed for enclosed areas like – auditoriums, library, office areas, labs etc.
2. Guards, non-teaching staff and teaching staff should be trained and educated on how to use these fire extinguishers.
3. Class teachers – especially of primary and pre-primary classes must be trained to execute fire and emergency drills.
4. Students and teachers need to be instructed about evacuation plans.
5. Proper facility management and daily supervision is essential to inspect loose electrical wirings, electric bells, switchboards, security cameras and if any electronic or electric device or wire is found not properly working, then it must be fixed to immediately.
1. Entrances to the toilets need to be well monitored by a security camera.
2. Trained ayas, a teacher in charge of primary and pre-primary classes must keep vigilant during schools hours, especially during times when a child has to attend toilet in non-teaching periods – like during sports, swimming, prayer time, etc – because at this time, class teachers cannot monitor a child’s going and coming back from the bathroom.
3. Dangerous sections of the building complex like water tanks, septic tanks, generator enclosures – should repeatedly be monitored during school hours, especially during the time when school ends, that no careless mistake is done by any facility member – like forgetting to unlock gates.
Others important school security measures
1. Badges and name tags should be made mandatory for teaching and non-teaching staff.
2. Police verification and psychometric evaluation of the teaching and non-teaching staff should always be undertaken.
3. Visitors must have limited access to the school.
4. CCTV cameras need to be installed across the school premises and should be regularly monitored.