Playing hopscotch may be a common game for children, but at St Gregorios School, Chembur, students and their parents have been forced to take it too far.
Ever since the new building school opened a month ago, parents who drop and pick up their children have to make their way around open storm water drains on the way to the school gate. The drains, situated at regular intervals on both sides of the pavement, are almost 12 inches wide, and lead to gutters on each side of the narrow lane leading up to the school. The sole lane, which leads to the main gate, is occupied by school buses around 9.30 am and 12.30 pm, when the school hours begin and end respectively.
Many students, between the ages of two and five, are dropped and picked up by their parents. Since the lane is filled with school buses, parents have to ferry their children across the narrow road and use the precarious footpath. It is also littered with bricks, sand and other construction material.
A parent of two school-going children, aged two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half years, said on condition of anonymity, “In the mornings, there is no room to walk after the buses assemble outside the school. There are rods jutting out of holes in the pavement, and bricks and piles of sand have been left around carelessly.”
According to the parent, a child recently fell into an open gutter outside the school and injured himself. “One of the teachers apathetically commented that this is how children can learn to be more careful, that it toughens them and makes them stronger,” she added.
The school watchman, Anil, who wished to divulge only his first name, said, “There has been no untoward incident so far. The construction work happening outside the school gates should be completed in about a week.”
Narendra Barde, assistant municipal commissioner, Chembur region, said, “We have not received any complaints about the matter from school authorities or parents yet. If a formal complaint is lodged, we will look into the matter.”