It was shocking for the parent to get a call from his teacher, asking her to take her son back home. It was a punishment for his late-coming.
“It's not like we don't leave early enough. But I spend more than half an hour to cross the stretch near Avvai Shanmugam Salai ,” says the parent.
While parents are having a very difficult time tackling the issue of traffic congestion around schools, schools are trying out different strategies to address the issue.
For instance, D.A.V. Senior Secondary School in Gopalapuram called for a parent-teacher meeting recently to discuss ways to handle the problem of late comers.
According to a parent who participated, it has been decided to rope in a service organisation to have volunteers trained to be able to regulate traffic. “Something has to be done. There are nearly 10 schools in the vicinity and there is no attempt to regulate traffic or adjust timings with some agreement,” he said.
There are, at least, half-a-dozen schools around Adyar and they have a problem every morning, said school heads.
J. Johnson Rex Dhanabal, Principal of St. Michael's Academy, Gandhi Nagar, said though the school heads met about three years ago and decided to begin classes at different timings, traffic congestion has not reduced in the area. “About 60 per cent of our children come by private vehicles, 30 per cent by vans and the rest, by public transport,” he said.
The head of a government school off East Coast Road observed that it gets chaotic outside the school every morning. “College buses and vehicles operated by IT companies plying along this stretch compound the problem.”
Given the increasing traffic congestion, it may not be easy for schools to ensure punctuality on the part of teachers and students. Reaching B.S. Mootha Girls Senior Secondary School located near the Duraiswamy subway is not an easy task.
Principal of the school Uma Srinivasan said that while most students come from neighbouring localities, those who live a little far away have a difficult time. “We have an average of 20 to 30 late-comers every day. We give them a warning. But, more support from the traffic police to regulate the traffic in the area will definitely help.”
According to a senior faculty member of Jawahar Vidyalaya Senior Secondary School, Ashok Nagar, traffic congestion is a perennial issue. “However, there has been no significant increase in the number of later-comers, since we have our Road Safety Patrol volunteers regulating traffic every morning,” she said.
Principal of Smt. Narbada Devi J. Agarwal Vivekananda Vidyalaya in Vyasarpadi, R. Sethubai, says though north Chennai is known for the traffic congestion, the school has managed to tackle the issue of late-coming with the cooperation of parents. “We asked them to ensure that they are here on time and now, they start earlier, accordingly.”
St. Raphael's Girls Higher Secondary School in Santhome has a problem of another kind. “We have many of the students coming from the tsunami resettlements in Semmancheri and Kannagi Nagar. Due to the long commute and traffic congestion on their way, they invariably reach late. We have requested the Transport Department to provide us special buses,” said a senior teacher.
With some schools in Santhome and Adyar engaging private vans to transport students, parking is one big issue while the vehicles wait.
R. Jayashree, parent of a student in a T. Nagar school, says: “These days each parent brings a car. PTAs should encourage car pooling. It will really help. Look at the number of cars parked here. On rainy days it gets more chaotic.”