Friday, January 24, 2014

22.5% schools taking students' security for granted

22.5% schools taking students' security for granted

NAGPUR: The issue relating to safety and security of students is now paramount within the educational system, hence the government is ensuring that at least the basic infrastructure is ready in every school. The Right To Education (RTE) Act has now mandated that every school must have a boundary wall in order to get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the education department. There are 22.5% schools in Nagpur district which do not have a boundary wall and the education department has started cracking the whip. Every school has been issued the ultimatum to fulfil the norm else face action under RTE.

Rachna Singh, principal, St Ursula Girl's High School, said, "Boundary walls are very important. When I joined the school, we didn't have a boundary wall but only a barbed wire frame. But I soon realized that it was a huge problem. There were people who could enter the school premises and as we are a girl's school, it could be dangerous for safety. A boundary wall provides physical as well as a mental sense of safety and security. It also sets a limit for students, which they know is not to be crossed. So it plays a very important role. It also has an aesthetic value as it highlights the main school building."

Dr Vagish Katariya, director, Tejswini Vidya Mandir, said, "Boundary walls define limits, physically and mentally too. In society also, we are always taught to work and behave in limits and having boundary walls in the schools is a way to teach them. Also, they play a very important role in ensuring the safety and security of children. And not only physical safety, boundary walls restrict the entry of unwanted miscreants into school. These miscreants can have a very bad effect on children. It is the responsibility of the school to ensure students' safety in every way and hence, I think this percentage should go up."

Mahesh Karajgaonkar, deputy director of education, said, "The boundary wall is an issue which at some schools just cannot be solved. The reason is that many such schools were started 50-60 years ago when the need for education was great. They were started in older parts of the city like Itwari which have now become extremely congested. In Itwari, there is a school whose door opens directly on the main road, but 50 years ago it was not so. So now, there is no other option for these types of school but to shift elsewhere."

He added that the government has relaxed the norm and the school may have a boundary wall, wired fencing or vegetation fencing. "The idea is that entry to school should be restricted for outsiders and even stray animals. Safety and security of kids is paramount hence these rules have been put into place. Many schools have started the process of building a boundary wall putting in place a fencing and that will take care of their RTE requirements," said Karajgaonkar.

The data may have followed stringent rules of defining a boundary wall and that could have resulted in these statistics. "I am sure by the time the next round of data collection happens we will find 100% compliance. If it is a matter of fencing then every school can get it done except the ones in older parts of the city," said Karajgaonkar.

The education department is now strictly cracking down on all schools which fail to comply with the infrastructure norms. Hence many education officials believe that in the next one year the statistics will tell a very different story.

Knowing the limits

*Nagpur district has 22.5% schools which do not have a boundary wall

*Right to Education (RTE) makes it mandatory for schools have boundary walls

*The education department has started to take serious cognisance of the issue

*Action will be taken against erring schools

*Boundary walls are important for safety and security of the students and of the school

*It restricts entry of unwanted elements into the school

*Some experts say that it also has a psychological impact on children

*Boundary walls work as a symbol of limitations which have to be maintained while living in a society, add experts

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