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'Take private school vans to task, not schools'

Unaided Schools’ Forum speaks out against the State Education Commissioner’s rule wherein educational institutes without a bus committee stand to be derecognised

Last month, the state education commissioner, S Chockalingam, announced that it is mandatory for schools to set up a bus committee.

Schools have been issued a notice which states that those failing to comply will face severe action and might lose recognition. While most schools have formed the committee, some in the state that provide no bus service demanded to be exempted from the rule.

“Schools that run their own fleet of buses or provide school bus service on contractual basis must form the school committee as per rules. But why should schools that do not provide the service be included in this rule?” asked SC Kedia, honorary secretary of Unaided Schools’ Forum, Mumbai. Over 200 schools across the state are part of this forum.

In a letter addressed on August 11 to the education minister, commissioner, secretary, and other senior officials from the education department, the Unaided Schools’ Forum have expressed discontent.

“The directions are illegal and unfair, and schools are worried about losing affiliation or recognition if they do not follow this rule,” states the forum’s letter.

Menace caused
The letter highlights the menace caused by private vans and other four wheelers that ply without permission
or contract.

“Various schools have reported that many private vehicle owners, who don’t follow safety norms, are being allowed to ferry children. The government needs to focus on taking these vehicle owners to task rather than target schools. We have requested the transport department to ban these vehicles,” added Kedia.

The letter also quotes a writ petition filed at the Bombay High Court, which is pending and therefore, the matter about school bus safety policy still remains subjudice.

The School Bus Owners’ Association (SBOA) has repeatedly written about this issue to the state education as well as the transport department. “We are being pulled up for smallest errors but private van owners blatantly flout rules,” said Anil Garg, president of SBOA.

Despite repeated attempts, Chockalingam and Rajendra Darda, state education minister, were unavailable for comment.

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