Heroes are those who rise when they fall, choose to fight back a wrong or injustice instead of accepting it. When the Vibgyor High school in Marathahalli, Bengaluru, ran into controversy because of the alleged rape of a student, the way the parents of the school children were united in their fight against the inefficient system that could not protect a child is an example to follow. They made use of online groups to unite together for the cause and bring home one single point – no more threat to security of kids.
They framed a set of questions and guidelines that they gave to the management which would be followed up. If every school follows this guideline, the crime against students in schools will be greatly reduced.
Though the event in Vibgyor school is well-covered by the media, this is not the first time such incidents taking place in schools in Bengaluru. The fact remains that though unreported, there are/might be instances in many other schools, and parents and school managements need to be proactive to stop any such crime from taking place.
With due credits to all those parents of the Vibgyor school kids who took the effort to compile this list, Citizen Matters wants to share its edited version on the public domain, for the benefit of thousands of anxious parents and hundreds of teachers and school managments all over the city, who are looking for proactive approach to ensure childrens’ safety in schools.
Questions to the School management
- Why was the kid left alone? Why was she punished? Why isolation punishment? Punishment should not be a solution. Instead the teachers can give “time-out” in the same room. Why have the Class teacher, assistant teacher not been accountable and taken in custody, as they were aware when the kid was brought to the class by the maid to the class back? Why did not the Principal and Assistant Principal communicate this amicably to the parents and call a day off instead of waiting for the parents to protest?
- Why no proactive communication done on this or any other mishaps that happened?
- How come no other kid or teacher heard the incident when it happened?
- We need public report on background check including criminal reports have to be taken and shared when asked by a parent for all the staff.
- What is the background check done for new and existing teachers, assistant teachers, drivers and maids (psychometric and criminal checks)? We would want such checks for all employees and contractors as well.
- Is the CCTV footage been checked when the child was taken from gym (so called dark room) to her classroom?
- Number of CCTV cameras/ monitoring must be increased (in every classroom, common area, all entrances to the school, and outside the restrooms). Live footage of the same should be provided online with one month retention and three months offline and addresses to be shared with the parents. It has to be monitored at the coordinator’s room, principal’s room and at the reception area.
- We need an action plan to check on all the points. Regular meetings have to be conducted so we know the progress of the requested items at a mutual agreed time between parents and school authorities. The closure dates have to be mentioned in time.
- Clause 15 and 16 in the school application form states – “School or teachers are not responsible for any undue incident on premise or off-premise (field trips and out of city trips.)” Why is the school shirking off its responsibility?
- How are the outsourced vendors verified? What kind of background check is done for security, housekeeping and other outsourced vendors? The parents would need the access to such reports if need be.
- Why does the SPA block have no restrooms, increasing the risk of kids going in and out of the building without any escort?
- The few kids that come early to school by bus or self are let in through the side gate (SPA gate) and are left alone, unmonitored, in their respective classes which may be a risk on its own.
- SPA Block security is the biggest question.
- How does any class teacher or SPA teacher take pictures of the kids without permission of the parents? SPA teachers have been noted and already complained that they are abusive to boys and girls, and showing pampering in excess too on a few kids which is not required.
- Prior identification and verification of people who are picking up the children other than parents should be done (a bearer card facility must be implemented).
- All the walls (School Perimeter Walls) should be raised reasonably high and secured.
- School Premises are meant only for school students and not for outsiders. There are a few more unconfirmed incidents that happened before and after school hours that were suppressed by the school. This gives room for trespassers to know the loopholes to access the school for their benefit and may harm the kids too. Thus activities post and pre-school hours have to banned in the school premises for the safety of the kids.
- Water tankers getting inside the premises to extract waters from borewell to sell the water outside have to be stopped immediately. This also increase the security risks of our kids.
- Why NO separate boys and girls changing rooms in the SPA block/ school premises?
Problems in the existing system in the school:
The culprits are given opportunity because of lack of well-monitored system in places like:
- The increased number of classes and increased number of students leading to more buses and thus no experienced drivers or staff who can handle kids are there.
- Unwanted staff/people are boarded by the drivers in the bus. Many times, only male attendants in the bus example. And no teacher / responsible school representatives available in the bus till the last kid is dropped.
- No GPS system and no proper system to communicate the delay to the arrival of buses for drop or pickup. If a GPS is in place, each parent can track the bus right from exit from school to entry back to school (Just like GPS used in Meru Cabs)
- Maids and drivers not speaking Hindi or English, but just the local language that is not understandable for most of the kids who may run into such issues.
Other preventive measures to be taken by the school
What needs to be done besides answering the questions above by the school authorities and Management is listed below as demands from the parents:
- Parents Teachers Association has to be formed again. It is a MUST. They must convene meetings on a regular basis to represent the parents’ concerns to the management. Also there should be an audit committee.
- Proactive communication from school on any incident/policy change is required.
- If the teachers are unaccountable to their school kids, they need to be suspended immediately.
- Can we have CCTV cameras in bus?
- Better standard security agencies should be deployed who have previous experience of dealing with the schools, as basic gate security is also not in place. Anyone can enter the premises pretending too be a parent without being stopped. Parents or outsiders should be allowed to visit the school at the scheduled time, unless there is an emergency. The gate should be informed about the arrival of such persons in advance, so that it will not affect the security of the kids in school.
- Escorts to the kids have to be provided at every point of time, even while going to rest room or any class rooms for language/computers/SPA/cafeteria. Escorts should ensure smooth picking up or dropping the kids to safe hands of parents of teachers in the premises.
- There should be security/ escorts present outside restrooms too, besides the escort with the child to monitor that the rest room is used only by the kids during school hours.
- A good balance of male and female security for the premises and buses should be there, after the background checks done for criminal or psychometric reasons, number to be increased.
- In post school daycare /PSA similar stringent security measures have to be taken.
- Increase in cameras and footages to be provided as requested.
- Decrease in number of sections for each grade and sticking to the class strength as promised. Give importance to QUALITY, not QUANTITY.
- Educate every kid in the school on “Good Touch and Bad touch” as a part of curriculum periodically.
- Good quality smart cards to be provided as P1 to all kids immediately, as already a few holders are wearing out. And do same time disbursement to all kids instead of giving in parts. And the smart card info should reach the parent in some form when the kid reaches school and swipes it or when leave they get a message too upon swiping.
- Attendance to be taken at the beginning and end of every period, SPA, lunch, snack time or any classes where the students move from one room to another such as language, computers, art, SPA etc. Also attendance has to be validated and confirmed by class teacher with the morning attendance and before disbursement/ boarding the bus /been picked up
- No photography to be allowed without written permission from the concerned parent.
- Messaging (SMS/emails) is not comprehensive enough to cover all the parents and it is more haphazard manner today, a need of action to be taken where the communication is better and stronger.
- Once a child boards a bus at school or at pick up zone near home, they should not be allowed to disembark. Also the bus drivers or staff should not let non-staff to board the bus at any point while the children are not in the bus. The should not stop in between the school trips for personal work.
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