In light of deaths of two school students by drowning in water tank and septic tank, in the school premises in Delhi earlier this year, the state government’s education department vide an Order issued on February 01, 2016 directed all schools to immediately carry out special inspection of whole school building and the premises and further directed the Head of Schools to give a declaration to the Deputy Director of Education of the Zone concerned, assuring that their school is fully safe for students and staff. The Delhi government also constituted a task force to inspect all schools in the capital of India, New Delhi.
As per the issued Directions regarding safety compliance of the students,
“The Heads of all schools- Government including schools of MCD and NDMC, Government aided schools and private schools, are hereby directed to immediately carry out special inspection of whole school building and the premises including roof top and boundary wall to ensure that there is no safety hazard such as open or uncovered sewerage tanks/ water storage tanks/ manholes/ pits or loose or naked live electric wires or windows without grills, broken/unlocked doors leading to roof tops etc. which may endanger the life of students and if there is any such potential hazard take immediate steps to remove the hazards. Besides it, there should be no broken pieces of glass, iron or wooden furniture lying in the staircase or passage which may hinder the free movement of the students.
They are further directed to give a declaration in the enclosed format within four days to the Deputy Director of Education of the Zone concerned. The Deputy Director of Education (Districts) will then submit to this Branch an undertaking within two days with respect to their district that all the schools within their jurisdiction are safe for students.
It may be added here that after obtaining such declaration, all the schools will be inspected by special task forces constituted by the Government to verify the position and if any school is found lacking on any safety count, strict action will be taken against the Principal and/or school management.”
The move by Directorate of Education (DoE) comes after a five year old drowned in an open septic tank in a MCD-run school at Kapashera and a Class I student of a private school in Vasant Kunj, was found dead in a water reservoir of the school premises. These are not isolated incidents and add to several other incidents with students while they were in school premises.
CBSE vide Circular No: 28/2004 (http://cbse.nic.in/circulars/safety.pdf) has provided broad preventive measures with respect to, Fire Safety Management, Structural Safety, Earthquake Management, Flood/Cyclone Management, Landslide Management, Management from Industrial Products, Electrical Safety, Stampede Management, Safety from Constructional Hazards, Water Safety, Laboratory Safety, Transport Management and Safety, Trauma Management, Safety of the differently abled.
Though guidelines for schools have long been in place, but recent fatal incidents have now drawn the attention of school authorities towards checking for hazards. Schools have increased monitoring and started safety audits. Schools are now focussing on conducting periodic inspections as periodicity of inspections is the key to provide a safe environment to students. Though most private schools self-regulate but there are a few others setting the benchmark for addressing gaps in safety standards. Euro School has collaborated with Bureau Veritas, a global leader in conformity assessment and certification services. Euro School is the first school to receive this certification for all its 10 schools in the country and to be certified ‘safe school’.
It is the need of the hour for schools to have a safety protocol in place, with safety checkpoints for different locations in school premises such as stairs, school gate, lifts, laboratories, classroom, swimming pool, playground, power room/circuits, terrace etc. School Authorities and Parents must work together to identify the gaps in safety standards and addressing them. In addition to safety audits (internal or external), Schools must have a reporting culture where estate managers, teachers, students and parents can freely bring up the safety concerns to school authorities which can then be addressed to avoid incidents.
Let’s work together to provide children with a safe learning environment!
Author: Disha Malhotra (Research Specialist, The Hearth Education Advisors)