KOCHI: Come new academic year, all school buses in the state will have to be fitted with the global positioning system (GPS) equipment, which will help track the movement of the vehicles and ensure the safety of children.
The state government had come out with a notification making GPS tracking system mandatory in all Educational Institution Buses (EIB) from April 1. However, the order has landed many schools, especially those in the flood-hit areas in the state, in a tight spot.
According to KK Shajahan, general secretary of Kerala Recognised School Management Association (KRSMA), the government order mandating installation of GPS equipment in all educational institution buses was first issued on October 1. “This came right after the devastating mid-August floods and many schools, especially those under the unaided category, expressed their inability to find funds to cover the device price and installation costs. So, we approached the government and requested more time,” he said. Following this, the government extended the deadline to the beginning of the academic year, he said.
“But still many schools have issues with sourcing of funds. However, there will be no more leeway and every institution will have to find the money needed to install the system,” he said. KRSMA secretary K G Gireeshan said the schools will have no option but to source the amount by including the same in the bus fee they charge from the students. “This will be an additional burden on the parents,” he said.
According to Shajahan, the KMVD wants the installation of equipment to be done as early as possible to avoid the last-minute rush leading to complete chaos at the GPS tracking system vendors’ workshops. “The tracking system zeroed in by the association is developed by Unidad, a Kottayam-based company which has been recognised by C-DAC and the KMVD,” he said. They are providing the device for Rs 8,500, he said.
According to him, the schools in the unaided sectors have a total of around 9,000 buses. This along with those owned by the CBSE schools constitute a huge fleet of school buses that need to be fitted with the device. “It is good to have a tracking device since it will instil a sense of security in parents as well as students. However, it is to be seen how effective the entire drive will be,” he said.According to Gireeshan, instead of forcing the schools to install the tracking system in their buses in the first phase, the government could have asked heavy vehicles and other public vehicles to fit the device first.
Meanwhile, the CBSE school managements said it would be difficult for most schools to install the device in all their buses at a go. Ibrahim Khan, president of Kerala CBSE School Managements’ Association, said initially those buses which are due for renewal of fitness certificate will be fitted with the system. “At present, more than 15,000 buses are ferrying students studying in CBSE schools. Many schools have more than five buses. So, the schools have to delve deep into their coffers to find the funds for the purpose,” he said.