Abu Dhabi: Private schools in Abu Dhabi will have to frame the procedure to deal with child abuse complaints and equip school buses with cameras and GPS (Global Positioning System) devices, education authorities revealed yesterday.
A proposed regulation will treat the school principal as the pupils' guardian and the principal will have to report any incident of abuse to the authorities within 24 hours, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) revealed yesterday.
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A pupil's registration in a school is a tacit agreement by the principal to act as the guardian and accept responsibility for the child when he or she is in the school's guardianship, an Adec statement said.
As Gulf News reported earlier, the alleged sexual assault on a four-year-old girl in Dubai by the school bus driver and two conductors had raised concerns about children's safety and security.
But an official spokesman of Adec told Gulf News that this incident was not the reason behind the impending regulation as the council had started working on it long ago. "That recent incident was unfortunate. But Adec had started formulating the regulation long ago," he said.
He clarified that the regulations were not prompted by any major complaints of child abuse. "The council wanted to avoid any possibility of child abuse in schools," he said.
Yousuf Al Shiriyani, Executive Director of Private Education and Quality Assurance Division at Adec, said in the statement that the principal will be responsible when the child is travelling to and from school in a vehicle provided by the school or when travelling during activities organised by the school, such as excursions.
The regulations will require the school and its principal to protect children's rights. The children should not be subjected to any sort of verbal or physical abuse, Al Shiriyani said.
The Adec spokesman told Gulf News that the schools will have to put in place an internal mechanism based on Adec regulations to protect the child.
If there is a suspicion of a child being subjected to abuse, the incident has to be reported to the principal who has to follow the procedures issued by Adec. The principal has to report the incident within 24 hours to Adec, which will take disciplinary action as per the regulations.
The spokesman said action will be taken against principals who fail to report such matters to the council.
Abu Dhabi Adec will ask private schools to equip buses with cameras and GPS to ensure children's safety while travelling.
As per the proposed Adec regulations, school bus supervisors should have at least middle school qualifications, with no criminal record and no complaints or observations issued against them. The supervisors and bus drivers should produce a recommendation letter from the previous employer, attesting to their track record and ability to handle children well. Supervisors are responsible for the children from the moment they board the bus until the last child leaves and they have to ensure the bus is empty at the end of the journey and confirm this to the driver.
The drivers should hold class B or C driving licences with no black points recorded against them. They will be the children's guardian while taking them to and from school. The drivers must also produce a certificate of good conduct and should be interviewed rigorously before appointment.
Web page: Remaining in touch
Adec has dedicated a web address, firstname.lastname@example.org, to receive feedback from parents. The council, through its private education department, will ensure high quality and constant communication with parents to sort out problems.
There are three school licence categories: provisional, general and accredited. Provisional licence is granted to newly built schools and it is valid for one year subject to renewal.
The regulations have indicated that every school holding a provisional licence must obtain a general licence to continue working in the UAE. This licence will be valid for a period of two years.
The council grants an accredited licence after an inspection and assessment performed by the council.
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