Several parents of schoolchildren in Bhopal have expressed concern over safety in school buses in the wake of serious crimes occurring on buses in recent times. HT spoke with two of the largest stakeholders in the situation - parents and school bus operators - to get a clearer picture of the implementation of guidelines that are supposed to keep kids safe.
While most Bhopal school buses largely follow the guidelines laid by the Supreme Court, they have still not implemented Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) guidelines. Not equipping buses with CCTV cameras and GPS systems is among the rules that are widely flouted by school buses in the capital city.
The CBSE has also asked schools to issue ID cards to parents, which they must carry when they come to pick up their children. If they send someone else instead, an SMS must be sent to the school authorizing the other person to pick up the children.
“We do have a fire extinguisher and a first aid box in all our buses, but we don’t have GPS and CCTV cameras. We also follow all other rules of Motor Vehicle Act but the rest of the CBSE rules apply only to schools and we cannot do much about it,” said Rajendra Sharma, secretary, school and college bus association, Bhopal.
Parents too are now wary of sending their children to schools in buses. “I am scared by the kind of incidents happening every other day in school buses, and I have told my daughter to stay alert and not interact much with the bus staff,” said Rani Jhabak, a parent.
According to the CBSE guidelines, the school management should also ask school bus drivers to limit their interaction with the students.
“We have asked management to regularly check the conduct of school bus drivers and conductors and soon most of the schools in Bhopal will also follow the GPS system to track the commute of every student,” said PK Pathak, principal, Rajiv Gandhi School.