Private school managements on Wednesday raised objections to the government circulars regarding safety and security of students in schools. They threatened not to obey the circulars unless the government engaged them in a dialogue.
‘Knee-jerk reaction’: L.R. Shivarame Gowda, chairman of the Karnataka Private School Joint Action Committee (KPSJAC), said the government had resorted to a knee-jerk reaction and that it was not feasible for private schools to obey the guidelines. “How can guidelines be framed without consulting managements,” he questioned. He said that school managements would see a 15 to 20 per cent increase in expenditure if they had to implement the guidelines.
KPSJAC secretary D. Shashi Kumar said that if managements had to install CCTV cameras and GPS devices, they would be forced to pass on the cost to parents, which would lead to an increase in fees.
Mr. Gowda said, “If the government insists on installation of GPS devices and CCTV cameras, we will ask the government to transport the children to school. When the Education Department says it will be difficult to install CCTV cameras in government schools, how can they enforce it on private schools?”
The Education Department had issued 70-point guidelines, while the police issued 11-point guidelines regarding safety and security of students after the rape of a six-year-old at a school in Marathahalli. The police have told all schools — government, private and aided — to implement the guidelines before August 30.
The committee has also questioned the need for two sets of guidelines. “The guidelines issued by the police are only meant for schools in Bangalore. Why this discrimination? There is a need to have one comprehensive set of guidelines,” Mr. Kumar said.
KPSJAC members have decided to meet Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar and Home Minister K.J. George with a request to review the guidelines.
‘Blot on all schools’: However, the KPSJAC condemned the management for allegedly covering up the rape of the six-year-old girl. Mr. Gowda said the crime was a blot on all private schools. “If the school had accepted the issue, things would not have got out of hand.”
He said that there was a need to question the principal and staff. “Merely questioning the management will not help. The principal and the staff also need to show some accountability, as they are responsible for the day-to-day running of the school,” he said.