If you think your child is safe while travelling in school buses, think again. A special team formed by the district administration found most school buses violating the Supreme Court’s guidelines for vehicles transporting school children.
The team, led by the district child protection office (DCPO) unit and comprising officials of the traffic, education and transport departments, inspected over 300 school buses in the district.
The team inspected the buses of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Public School; National Public School; Kidzee School; Ryan International School, Patiala; Tiwari Model School, Patiala; Stepping Stones Preparatory School, Patiala, and many other schools on Saturday. They found that the prescribed medicines were found missing in most of these school buses.
The buses of British Co-Ed High School, Guru Nanak Foundation Public School and Mount Litera Zee School that were inspected on Friday were found to be carrying expired medicines in their first-aid kits.
The buses of Bhupindra International Public School did not even have a first-aid kit, a DCPO official said.
District child welfare officer (DCWO) Shaina Kapoor said, “Not just medicines, even fire extinguishers in school buses had crossed the expiry date in most cases. Ironically, all eminent private schools of the city are not following the high court directions, though the recently-established and small schools are abiding by the norms.”
She said most school buses did not have female attendants for girl students, functional CCTV cameras, contact numbers of schools and the district transport officer, hydraulic doors and speed governors, even as a direction in this regard had been issued by the transport department to all schools five months ago following the high court.
“This is a matter of children’s safety and the schoolw must cooperate with the administration and follow the mandatory norms,” Kapoor said.
School principals and managements had also held a meeting with the district transport officer a few days ago, claiming the administration had launched the drive without any directions to schools.
However, district transport officer Gurpreet Singh Thind said the state government had implemented the ‘Safe School Vahan Scheme’ about three years ago in the state and the schools had been directed to follow all the mandatory norms. He said that several meetings were also being held with the school management to make them aware about the norms.
The team is giving a period of one week to the erring schools to comply with the guidelines. Moreover, school principals have been made to sign affidavits in this regard. In case of non-compliance, strict action will be taken against them. The team will submit an affidavit to Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights on February 8, who will in turn submit a state-wide report to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 15.