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HT Top Schools Conclave in Mumbai: It is important for schools to hire counsellors, say experts

Schools across the city have not only held workshops for students to help them keep themselves safe, but have also included parents in the sessions.

mumbai Updated: Nov 14, 2017 16:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,HT Top Schools Conclave,Mumbai schools
School principals and academicians at the event that marked the culmination of the ninth edition of HT Top Schools Survey, an annual initiative that recognises the best schools in the city and suburbs. (Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

While there is a lot of discussion on safety of students in school campuses, how does one ensure their safety outside schools?

After discussing the need to adopt better safety measures within the school premises, school principals highlighted the growing concern on safety of children outside the premises, at the HT Top Schools Conclave in Mumbai.

“We get calls from parents asking how safe is the school, but there’s very little awareness about safety beyond the school hours. Not just children, but even parents need to be made aware of various safety measures,” said Shubadra Shenoy, principal of Shishuvan School, Matunga.

Other principals quoted various surveys highlighting how most times, a perpetrator is always someone known to the child. “We can’t just tell children to distrust everyone so there is need for positive reinforcement as well,” she added.

Schools across the city have not only held workshops for students to help them keep themselves safe, but have also included parents in the sessions. Be it workshops on ‘good touch/bad touch’ talks or a friendly chat with their children, schools have ensured parents are in the loop in such matters. “Teachers share a strong bond with students, but the fact still remains that children spend maximum time outside the school. This is why it is important for parents to be more vigilant and aware,” said Kalyani Chaudhuri, principal, Billabong School, Thane.

While experts reiterated the role of a teacher in finding out behavioural changes in a child, which could be a clue that he or she needs help, principals highlighted the need for counsellors in schools to share this duty. Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2010, has already made it compulsory for all schools to hire a counsellor, but several schools still struggle to find a full-time counsellor.

“Teachers are already bogged down by too much academic work and can’t always find time and therefore, it very important for schools to hire a counsellor. Many of our students have a stronger bond with our counsellor than teachers and it shows how they are in need of someone to just listen to their problems,” said Vandana Lulla, director, Podar Group of International Schools. She added that their school also needs to build a very approachable environment to encourage students to open up about their problems.

First Published: Nov 14, 2017 01:23 IST