The talk of the town is school transportation. Should school buses have tinted windows or curtains? Also, once children reach school, what should we do to prevent abuse — from other students and teachers? A tough task indeed.
Let’s think of some viable options that are safe and harmonious.
There should be women drivers for school buses that transport girls. They will be more cautious drivers and students will be transported to and from school without being leered at. I am not generalising that all drivers are bad, but this is an option that could be taken into consideration.
It seems that putting cameras in classrooms will have to wait. At present, schools are hard-pressed to make ends meet and this isn’t a feasible option under the present economic scenario.
Therefore, to prevent children being bullied by other students or teachers, I would suggest:
• A committee should be formed for each school, comprising school management, teachers and parents. On a monthly basis, they should meet to assess the situation. Sealed complaints and suggestion boxes should be kept in schools, to be opened only by committee members.
• A higher committee comprising members from this team and from the school governing body, the Ministry of Education and police (a counselling or special team) should be formed. The school-level lower committee should submit a monthly report of any incidents.
• A daily or weekly duty officer should be appointed from among the lower committee with a contact number. Urgent matters should be handled immediately by the duty officer, after properly logging it and informing the committee. They should then try to resolve it amicably.
• If there are any serious cases, they should immediately call for an emergency meeting with the members of the higher-level committee and then analyse it thoroughly. At this time, they should take strict disciplinary action against both the student and his or her parents, who are equally responsible.
• Additionally, I suggest that the authorities consider special concessions to schools, for daily operating items. This will naturally bring down the operating costs for the schools and allow them to enhance their existing facilities or reduce school fees.
A country’s future lies with the youth and their development and these efforts will definitely bear fruit in the long run.
I submit this suggestion to the Ministry of Education through Gulf News’ column. Are there any like-minded readers out there?
— The writer is an Abu Dhabi-based technical officer and Gulf News reader