BENGALURU: Bengaluru schools have seen their share of tragedies. After the murder of an seven-year-old boy in Gurgaon’s Ryan International School, parents in the city have been discussing accountability of schools.They say that smaller schools are more responsive to parents complaints. Divya BA, who homeschools her daughter and runs My Little Bookshop, says, “I would prefer schools with homely environment with fewer children to ones with 20 buses and fancy facilities… bigger schools are more likely to bully parents.”
Besides the bullying, she would opt out of bigger schools also because they invest too much on the frills. “They conduct events and add facilities only to please parents, smaller schools stick to the original agenda (of educating the child),” she says.Child and adolescent counsellor Gayathri Anand, along with few other mothers, had a few years ago run a campaign against a school where a three-year-old was raped. “The school was headquartered in Delhi, so one day they simply shut shop and left. The Commission for Child Rights sent them a notice but the management is not bound by any rules,” she says. She too agrees that newer and smaller schools are more welcoming of parent interaction.
“Parents are more subdued with older, more established schools because getting an admission there is not easy… they don’t want to jeopardise it in anyway,” she says.“Smaller schools are genuinely more concerned and then they also don’t want any trouble legally. I did a survey among parents and found that safety was their top concern, so these schools also stress on that as a marketing ploy.”
Meanwhile parents have already started negotiating with schools. Seethal, a parent, says that she has already written to them saying that no staff member should be allowed into children’s washroom and that these facilities should not be located in any secluded area. “Weapons like knife or blade should be a complete no no, children should not be left unaccompanied on the campus and there should be one lady attender in the van,” she says.
Staff including contract workers should be informed about legal consequences of sexual assault, says another parent. Hema, mother of a primary school student, says, “They should be made to understand the gravity and consequences of child safety and sexual abuse.” She adds that background verification of staff is crucial.
Besides criminal intent of staff, rains and crashing trees are also a concern. Another parent Joshna says, “Trees inside the campus should be checked to see if they can withstand the rains. Children should be directed towards lanes that are not tree-lined.”