In the month of January, a five-year-old boy fell to his death in an open septic tank in his school. He was a student of an MCD school in Delhi’s Kapashera. In February, a six-year-old boy of Delhi’s Ryan International School drowned. In December 2015, two children aged three and four years drowned in a swimming pool in a school in Bhopal. These unfortunate deaths, and others, were mourned by the entire nation. A heated debate on the issue was safety of school-children ensued.
In the wake of these accidents, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has decided to reprimand schools if the management is found to be negligent and irresponsible. The commission has plans to revoke the school board’s affiliation in “extreme cases”.
Speaking with The Times of India, an NCPCR member said, “There have been so many recent mishaps in schools that have put the lives of students at risk. We visited these schools and found that while action was taken against the school employee, teacher or principal, the management got away scot-free. To make a school more accountable, we must make the management more responsible”.
The commission’s decision to revoke affiliation is not only pivotal for the safety and security of students, but also quite prudent. A child drowning in a swimming pool or worse, in a septic tank, only highlights the sheer carelessness of the school authorities. Why would there be an open septic tank inside the school? Why was the child allowed to be remotely close to the tank? If he wandered away, what was the teacher in-charge doing? How can a student die inside the school’s swimming pool? Why were there no life guards around at the time of the incident?
Often schools employ people without verifying their background. These people may have a criminal past or a disturbing disposition. Is a child’s life worth the risk? The commission has proposed to bring school transport and security issues under its lens too. It plans to make police verification mandatory for all employees.
The lives lost were precious and we do not wish for any more accidents. The NCPCR’s tough stand on child safety and security will hopefully bring a difference.