Soon, women bus drivers will be driving your children to school. The School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) has decided to train women to drive the buses, hoping that an all-women staff will make school rides safer. The bus owners presented the proposal to the transport commissioner last week.
According to the school bus safety policy, it is already mandatory for women attendants to be present on board the bus for the safety of students.
Despite this provision, numerous cases of sexual assaults of children on school buses have been reported recently. In many of the cases, the bus drivers or attendants have been accused of the crime.
Having a woman bus driver could put an end to such incidents, said school bus owners. “If both the bus attendant and the driver are women, there will not be any risk of sexual assaults on children,” said Anil Garg, president of the SBOA, which runs 300 buses in Mumbai.
Garg said that the association will soon begin training 30 to 50 women attendants to drive school buses. “We will put them in driving schools and pay for their training,” said Garg. “By June, they can be ready to drive buses.”
However, school principals said that hiring women drivers will not put an end to cases of sexual assaults on children. “I don’t think that hiring women drivers is a remedy to this problem, this alone will not guarantee the safety of children,” said Girija Mohan, principal, Chhatrabhuj Narsee Memorial School, Vile Parle.
Mohan added that bus operators should be careful while appointing staff for school buses. “Police verification, proper checks must be conducted before hiring the staff, it doesn’t make a difference if it is a man or a woman,” she said.
On the other hand, parents’ teachers associations have welcomed the initiative, but only if experienced women drivers are appointed. “I agree that buses will be much safer if there is a woman attendant, but you cannot entrust the responsibility of driving school buses on new drivers,” said Arundhati Chavan, president of the Parents Teachers Association United Forum.