Instead of looking for air conditioned classrooms and hi-tech systems, perhaps it’s time to consider more basic safety essentials before deciding on schools for our children
NEWDELHI: The extremely tragic incident of a child having been found murdered in a prominent Gurgaon school raises several questions regarding the safety and security of children within schools. With school admissions becoming more and more complicated each year, perhaps parents and schools need to take another look at their priorities when it comes to admissions. Many schools advertise their “world-class facilities” that make the school look more like a five-star hotel than a school, with hi-tech systems, air-conditioned classrooms, Olympic-sized swimming pools, an International Baccalaureate (IB) courses etc.
It was only a few months ago that a child died in another prominent south Delhi school by falling from a second floor corridor. And now a child has been murdered in a bathroom within the school. Teachers and school authorities must remember that they are responsible for the well being of the child in loco parentis for all the time that the child has been entrusted in their care. More important than air-conditioned classrooms is whether the school premises are safe for a child. Things such as whether the railings in corridors are too low, and whether windows grills are enough to keep small children from falling off must be considered more important than whether the colour of the walls are vibrant enough.
While it is important to think about whether the board exam results of the school’s students are in the high 90s, it is equally important to ensure that children are always within shouting distance of a responsible adult. Whether that adult is the principal of the school, the driver of the student’s school bus, the class teacher responsible for the student, or the bathroom attendant; a parent must know that the child will be safe with those that the child spends time with in the school.
Are bathrooms child friendly? Do the smaller children have separate bathrooms? Does the school have a strict no corporal punishment policy? Is there a counsellor, a paediatrician and a nurse available at all times on campus? These are the sort of questions that are important while looking for a school. It is not important if high academic achievers are given a different coloured tie to wear. What is important is if the atmosphere in the school encourages you to leave your child in that environment secure in the knowledge that her safety is taken care of.