BENGALURU: The recent murder of a seven-year-old student at a private school in Gurugram, Haryana, has raised concerns over the safety of children on campuses. A visit to several schools in Bengaluru revealed the sorry state of affairs. While most government and private aided schools do not comply with safety norms, private unaided schools which constitute around 82 per cent of institutions in the city, seem to have scored better regarding child safety. There are over 5,000 schools in the city of which government-run and aided schools constitute together just 12 per cent.
A majority of private unaided schools are equipped with CCTV cameras and security personnel. No unauthorised person, including parents, is allowed to enter the campus. “In case of emergency, we will contact the parents, or if there is an emergency from their side, they must produce the identity card provided by us and contact the class coordinator,” said a senior supervisor at a private unaided school in South Bengaluru.At National Hill View Public School in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, the security personnel discourage people from standing near the gate. At places like Carmel School in Padmanabhanagar, even school vans are not allowed beyond the gate. “If the regular person who picks up a child cannot come, they have to inform us a day earlier or send their ID card with the stand-in guardian. Otherwise, we will keep the child in the school till the parent comes,” a staffer said.
A few schools have issued GPS-enabled student ID cards. Bangalore International School in Jayanagar monitors students’ activities using the tracking system to ensure their safety during school hours.
Holy Child School at Nayandahalli, which is run out of a commercial building and charges Rs 12,000 per annum as fees, has three CCTV cameras — one at the washroom corridor, one outside and another on first floor. School secretary Nishat Ashrafi said, “Following some cases of alleged sexual assaults on children, we stopped recruiting male staff and we give priority to safety.”
“I have never had issues regarding safety of my child in the last four years. During admission, the school authorities informed us about the safety measures and showed us where the CCTV cameras are. Though I have a parent ID card, I cannot enter the campus unless I have been invited,” said the parent of a student of Little Flower Public School in Hosakerehalli .However, even in many of these unaided schools, background verification of the staff is not done by the police. Some of the schools have not displayed the child line number and have not publicised their child protection policy, which is mandatory. A few of them have even ignored setting up of School Management Committees to ensure safety of children as per Right to Education Act.
No safety measures
The scene in government-run and government-aided schools is shocking as they do not have any safety measures in place — no CCTV cameras or security personnel. Only a few aided schools installed CCTV cameras and have provided ID cards to students and parents. Ravishankar, Headmaster of Rajarajeshwari School (aided) in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, said, “We have CCTV cameras at the entrance and corridors. As ours is an aided institution, we have no financial support to install cameras in classrooms.”NSVK School (aided) in Banashankari has no security measures. To make matters worse, the school has no compound wall too and any one can easily enter the premises.
Security measures are completely lacking in government-run schools. Of the 10 schools Express visited, this reporter and the photographer were not questioned or stopped anywhere. None of the schools were equipped with CCTV cameras and vehicles could easily enter the premises. “There is no pick-up and drop-off facility. Students will have to come on their own and we are not aware who drops them off or who picks them up. We cannot close the gates as the mid-day meal and milk suppliers have to enter. Installing CCTV cameras is not our responsibility, it is up to the government,” said the headmaster at a government school in Malleswaram.
- Installation of CCTV must at schools
- There should be access control at entry points
- GPRS should be installed in school vehicles
- ID cards should be provided
- to parents/guardians
- Floor-wise vigilance should be ensured
- Background check, police verification must for teaching and non-teaching staff
Document verification still pending
Private school managements blame the police for delay in document verification of staff. According to school managements, such verification has been pending for almost a year. “Though the schools are submitting applications for background verification of staff by paying Rs 251 at the police commissioner’s office, the applications are pending since a year. I planned to hire a person from Nepal as a security guard. I have no way of doing a background check on him. Unfortunately, even the police department is not doing it,” said D Shashikumar, general secretary of the Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka.