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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Dehradun rape: Safety of students in private schools questionable

A set of non-negotiable child safety rules for schools is the need of the hour.

dehradun Updated: Sep 20, 2018 00:12 IST
Nitika Kakkar
Nitika Kakkar
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
         

The recent gang rape of a girl in a Dehradun school has once again raised questions regarding safety and security of schoolchildren. Known for their quality of education, private schools in Uttarakhand attract students from all over the country. However, there are visible gaps in formation, implementation and monitoring of safety measures in the private schools.

SC Guidelines

As per the Supreme Court guidelines on child safety in schools, a school management should install sufficient CCTV cameras on campus, facing road and and periphery. When a team of Uttarakhand Commission for Protection of Child Rights (UCPCR) inspected the school where the gang rape took place, it did not find CCTV cameras in hostels. The UCPCR team also found that the girls’ hostel, housing 22 students, did not have any warden for a month.

The Supreme Court guidelines also state that all areas of the school premises should be regularly monitored and any unauthorised person should be questioned for their presence. School management is also required to appoint some staff as vigilance monitors on rotation to keep an eye on all activities of students. However, these are guidelines. A set of non-negotiable child safety conditions for schools is still awaited.

Accountability

Welham Boys’ School principal Guneet Bindra said, “When parents leave their children in a residential school, school authorities become their pseudo parents. We have to care for each and every child as our own. This includes taking care of their health, hygiene, safety and well-being.”

Bindra said negligence of any kind by a school in the safety of a child is unacceptable. “Internal security of a school is vital and cannot be compromised.”

Safety in schools

In October last year, the principals’ progressive school association (PPSA) issued a safety advisory to all its 176 member schools of Dehradun. These included installing CCTV cameras and their regular monitoring, police verification of all employees, advising parents not to drop off their children to school too early or pick them up too late and an entry system of each student, preferably in the form of biometric. The advisory also stated that no area of the school should be left unattended.

“The members of the association meet annually to discuss issues of safety and security of the children. We also ensure that all the member schools follow the guidelines that we have laid down,” president of PPSA Prem Kashyap said. He said PPSA has 36 schools which are both day and boarding.

“However, the school where this unfortunate incident took place is not a member of PPSA and I have never visited the campus as well. So I do not know how they were operating,” Kashyap said. He said PPSA has 36 schools which are both day and boarding.

Case of ICSE schools

Jennifer Kumar, Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) school association’s state president, said: “ICSE has issued guidelines for safety of students, which we abide by. There are periodic inspections by members of the council to monitor the same.” She said security of a student was of ‘paramount importance’, irrespective of which examination board the school is affiliated with.