The idea was proposed after the city-based Maharashtra State Goods and Passengers Transport Association (MSGPTA) and the School Bus Owners Association (SBOA) raised objections over the previous directive of the department that all school buses should arrange for a female guard to accompany the children.
Learning from CBSE
The department is taking a cue from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which to ensure student safety has ordered schools to make at least one teacher accompany students in school buses. The CBSE has also suggested that school officials, if they suspect the driver is in the habit of consuming alcohol, should do regular checks and proper action should be taken if the driver tests positive for liquor consumption. One of actions recommended is taking steps that would result in the cancellation of the driver’s licence. Baba Shinde, president, MSGPTA, said, “We had opposed the directive calling for deployment of female guards in buses and the department considered it. It is also the responsibility of the schools to take care of the children. We don’t have any objection if the schools arrange teachers on rotational duty.”
Onus on teacher
According to the education department, till the school bus policy is implemented the teachers in the buses will be held accountable if there is any mishap within the school premises. As for the school bus policy, the order on the implementation of the stipulated norms will be passed by the Bombay High Court on July 31. Managements of schools in the city that are thinking of starting their own bus services will also have to assign a teacher to every bus. “We have our own bus service and have been taking extra precautions by deploying extra guards in the bus,” JSPMS Cygnet High School principal R. Joshi said.
Owners hike charges
The MSGPTA has also increased the school bus fees by almost 20 per cent. The association, like its Mumbai counterparts, will charge at least Rs 300 more per student. “We have increased the fees so as to implement the norms stipulated by the state transport department,” Shinde said. “If we follow all guidelines, the bus operators will have to bear a cost of Rs 85,000 on each bus.”