The National Independent Schools Alliance has (NISA) contended the latest CBSE guidelines on school buses were an "unwarranted interference" and demanded subsidies from the government.
It demanded subsidies from the government to carry out recommendations that include installing CCTV cameras and GPS on all school buses.
The Central Board of Secondary Education on Thursday issued comprehensive guidelines on safety of children in school buses, mandating the schools to strictly comply with them. The board also warned them of action, including disaffiliation, if the guidelines were ignored.
Pointing to media reports about "callous approach" of certain schools towards safety of school children, the CBSE in its circular said: "Time has come to make the schools sensitive to this serious issue and to take proactive remedial measures to ensure that safe transport for school children becomes one of the paramount safety objectives for every CBSE-affiliated school."
Divided into seven broad categories, the guidelines mandate installing speed governors with cap at 40 km per hour, GPS and CCTV cameras. The CBSE also demands that the bus windows be fitted with horizontal grills and wire mesh and each bus should have a well-trained lady attendant.
While asserting that safety of the children was non-negotiable, NISA President Kulbhushan Sharma accused the CBSE of needless interference in schools' functioning.
"This is a matter of transport and there are sufficient guidelines by the government as well as by courts. It is the government's duty to look into issues of safety of the children and not of the board. This interference by the CBSE is totally unwarranted," Sharma told IANS.
"Complying with these guidelines entails huge amount of expenses which will eventually be passed on to the parents, thereby increasing their financial burden," he said.
"The government, therefore, needs to think about providing subsidies to school buses. We are not opposed to any of the guidelines. It is just that the government needs to come to the aid of the schools in this regard," added Sharma.
The CBSE guidelines come following the January 19 school bus accident at Etah in Uttar Pradesh, in which at least 12 children were killed.
The new guidelines also assign greater responsibility on parents for the safety of the children.
The baord has also asked parents to note down any violations committed by the driver and other staff of the school buses and immediately report these to the school authorities.
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