The recent incident of child sexual abuse in a school bus of a reputed school in Juhu has brought to the forefront several limitations in the school bus policy.
The policy is applicable to institutions defined as schools as per the education act, starting from Class 1, but has been extended by several schools to nursery students as well.
“The policy cannot be misused to put nursery children into buses terming it as a school bus without the presence of their parents or guardians because they are incapable of being by themselves,” said Indrani Malkani, member of the government committee that drafted the school bus policy.
She also pointed out that the district committee formed in the city to check implementation of the school bus policy has not met in the last six months.
Educationists pointed to other limitations. “As per the school bus policy, every school is supposed to set up a school bus committee which will also involve parents in checking the credibility of the bus contractors, but most schools haven’t followed it,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of PTA United Forum.
The management of the Juhu school, however, said that such a committee was in place. “The school has a bus supervision team which holds regular meetings with contractors to update them on the guidelines on a regular basis,”
said the management spokesperson.
The school had employed the services of the bus contractor 20 years ago. “The bus contractor was known to the school for over two decades, he is also the father of two girls who have studied in the school. This is the first such incident in the 20-year-old association and we are in complete shock,” the spokesperson said via email.
The spokesperson said that from Monday, a female staff member from the school would accompany the woman attendant on the school bus. The school is also in the process of installing mobile CCTVs and a bus-tracking system.