Schools and bus contractors may have to hike fees to implement the latest security instructions given to them by the local police.
Authorities of Mumbai’s government-aided schools said they cannot afford to beef up their security, as required by the police, unless they hike the fees or receive a special grant from the government.
Hindustan Times had reported on December 19 that in the wake of the attacks on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Wednesday evening, uniformed policemen had handed over circulars to schools asking them to put up eight-foot high cement compounds with barbed wires on top, along with other security instructions on beefing up security and monitoring visitors.
Though police commissioner Rakesh Maria denied the orders to construct walls topped with barbed wires were issued, government-aided schools said that they cannot even implement the other security measures listed out in the circulars.
These schools do not have CCTV cameras, round-the-clock security guards equipped with walkie-talkies or inter-com facilities in the school, as required by the circular.
Operating on a shoe-string budget, they said that they cannot afford to take these security steps. “We receive grants only to pay salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff. Security guards expenses will have to be handled by management alone,” said RP Joshi, secretary of the Rajya Shikshan Sanstha association. “But the management has already been taking on huge financial burdens, as the government has not yet paid our grants fully since 2009.”
Hence, the association has now written to the state government to provide grants to increase security. “This is a matter of national security. So, the government needs to help us,” said Joshi.
If the police continue to insist, schools will have no choice, but to hike the fees, said Amol Dhamdhere, vice-president of the Indian Education Society-run schools. “If we are to follow the police’s instructions, we will need to hike the fees of per child by Rs 200 to Rs 300,” he said. “Up-to-date security guards would incur an expense of at least Rs 40,000 per month.”
Directives given by the police had also mentioned that school buses should have CCTV cameras with 15 days recording facility and drivers and buses should have identity cards with biometric features. “This will drive up costs of school buses as well,” said Anil Garg, president of the school bus owners association. “The police need to issue instructions taking everything into consideration.”