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9 Dec 2017

State panel set to roll out school safety guidelines

Somdatta Basu | TNN | Dec 9, 2017, Kolkata: Rattled by the recent uproar over the alleged sexual abuse of a four-year-old girl by a teacher inside the school toilet, the state government has pressed the panic button. On Friday, the self-regulatory commission decided to look into the safety and security measures adopted by schools across all boards.
The commission, which was formed by chief minister Mamata Banerjee to roll out a formula to curb the ever-increasing private school fees, will now look into the security measures adopted by them. The self-regulatory commission met on Friday, after a hiatus of five months, at the education secretariat in Bikash Bhavan.
The government will now issue a guideline on safety and security of students, which has to be followed by the schools.
"The state issues no-objection certificates and extends registrations to schools within its domain. Though institutes may be affiliated to different boards and councils, if the state withdraws NOC or cancels registrations, then their affiliation, too, stands null and void," said an education department official.
She added, "When the recent incident took place, the onus fell on the state. It was said that the school education department has no control over private schools affiliated to CISCE or CBSE. With the self-regulatory committee already in place, we have now decided to draw up a manual regarding safety and security in all schools. A circular has already been distributed in institutes affiliated to West Bengal Board of Secondary Education."
Sources said the state will rework the manual already distributed in the Madhyamik Board-affiliated schools to make it more specific and up to date.
"Once the safety and security guidelines are handed over, all schools may have to give an undertaking to the state to abide by them," said the source.
Some measures included compulsory presence of CCTV cameras, female attendants in every girls' toilet and male attendants in boys' toilets and a school committee to immediately address problems. Banning outsiders on campus and mandatory carrying of ID cards were also discussed. The fire-safety protocols will also have to be maintained.
Last Saturday, Anil Swarup, the secretary of school education and literacy, MHRD, had specified that the state has enough power to frame rules for private schools across boards under the RTE Act, 2009.

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