The rape of five-year-old girl in a school van, barely 13 days after a school van driver attempted to molest a four-year-old girl, has raised the issue of safety of schoolchildren travelling in more than 2,000 vehicles every day in Indore.
Most of the schools don’t verify about the drivers driving their own school buses nor do they bother to check the antecedents of drivers of private vans or autos plying the school kids.
“It is true that schools don’t check their history and employ them on the basis of licence they carry,” said Sanjay Mishra, principal, Indore Loha Vypari Association School. The school runs several buses for its students.
In the absence of any such rule, the education department also goes cold whenever the issue of police verification crops up. “Since appointment of taxi and van drivers does not come under our jurisdiction, we can’t take direct action against them,” said Manmohan Tiwari, assistant director, district education office.
However, he suggested that the school administration must go through character verification certificate of the drivers thoroughly before appointing anyone. “The drivers are caretakers of children once they leave home for school and vice-versa. The schools cannot give such a responsible job to anyone without proper verification of his credentials,” Tiwari said.
The incident has once again forced principals and teachers to raise the demand for police verification of drivers operating these vehicles.
Condemning Tuesday’s incident, many school principals in the city spoke about mandatory steps to be taken before appointing a taxi or van driver at schools.
Indus World principal Archana Sharma said, “Before the appointment of the driver, his verification must be done. The school authorities must go through driver’s job history as well as try to get as much as information from his previous employers.” Sharma also suggested that a teacher should accompany the vans and efforts should be made to recruit female driver, if possible.
Police verification and documentation of government agencies like police and RTO helps avert such incidents, Sharma added.