Mumbai building collapse: 50 playschool toddlers have narrow escape | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai building collapse: 50 playschool toddlers have narrow escape

Educators say preschools and playschools — many of which are run from residences, commercial complexes or even basements — mushroom unchecked in Mumbai

mumbai Updated: Sep 01, 2017 01:12 IST
Puja Pednekar
Sniffer dogs were brought in to aid rescue operations on Thursday.
Sniffer dogs were brought in to aid rescue operations on Thursday.(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT)

Around 20 to 25 toddlers had a lucky escape on Thursday as Bhendi Bazar, which housed their preschool, collapsed just half an hour before their classes began.

Tulip Play Group and Nursery was operating from the ground floor of the Hussaini building on Pakmodia Street when the structure crashed around 9 am.

Educators reacted strongly to the incident, saying preschools and playschools — many of which are run from residences, commercial complexes or even basements — mushroom unchecked in Mumbai.

They said the government needed to mandate structural audits for preschools to ensure the safety of students.

Currently, only the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) requires schools to conduct structural audits, but this does not cover preschools as they are unregulated by the government. “Structural audits should be mandatory for all schools,” said Raj Aloni, principal, Ram Sheth Thakur Public School, Kharghar.

“The CBSE doesn’t give affiliation to schools that do not have a structural safety certificate,” he said.Child care experts, however, said the government can mandate audits only if they regulate the early childhood sector.

“Currently, the government does not even have a record of how many preschools are operating in the city,” said Swati Popat Vats, president of the Podar Education Network, and, president, Early Childhood Association (ECA), a group of 2,000 preschools across India. In the absence of safety norms, Vats said parents must demand structural audit reports from their preschools.

“Parents choose preschools that are close to home and do not charge hefty fees. They do not look at how safe they are,” said Vats. “They must check that the school has fire exits and holds evacuation drills,” she added.Though the government has not made it compulsory, the ECA has requested preschool owners to conduct audits on their own.