Roping in students for poll duty no child's game
While it is a learning experience to be on the field and see the casting of votes, it is also imperative that they spell out the reasons why they want children to volunteer as staff at the polling booths
School principals in Chembur have got a WhatsApp circular asking them to prepare a list of students from Std IX and XI for election duty on October 21. A report in this paper stated that the circular has confused parents and teachers. The former are concerned quite rightly, about their children being on poll duty.
The teachers were usually assigned this task, but right now it is the children, too, who are being roped in. These will be teenagers in the 14, 15 and 16 year age group. It would have also been wise for those in charge to hold a dialogue with principals of these schools as to the duty the children would have to perform at the poll booths.
While it is a learning experience to be on the field and see the casting of votes, it is also imperative that they spell out the reasons why they want children to volunteer as staff at the polling booths.
Students will have to report at 7am on election day. Their tasks include guiding voters, helping elderly people and assisting the election staff in their school. It is always better to have transparency, clarity and things in black 'n' white as befuddled parents will be worried about their children at the school centres.
Safety needs to be paramount when children are involved. Poll booths will see a large turnout and children must be safe. While of course, there will be cops on duty, there is an outside chance of unruly elements or some disturbance at booths. They must have briefing sessions ahead of their duty, so that they themselves are clear about their roles and are not upbraided by voters.
This is a heavy responsibility of booth officials and schools. Exciting for the kids while it may be, it sis also anxiety for parents and exacting for teachers and principals. Take all factors into consideration and plan well for children on election duty.
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