Having received flak from all quarters on the absence of guidelines on safety and security of schoolchildren, following the rape of a six-year-old girl in a private school in Marathahalli, five departments are brainstorming on the issue. For the first time, the inter-departmental guidelines will be made applicable to schools across the State.
While two departments have already submitted their set of suggestions, the others are in the process of finalising them. The proposals from all departments are yet to be compiled after which it would be vetted by the Law Department before sending it for the government’s nod.
Primary and Secondary Education, Woman and Child Development, Police, Transport and Health Departments are framing the guidelines.
Although the Home Department in June 2013 had asked the Education Department to consider a list of guidelines that it had framed, the guidelines were not sent to schools.
Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar said that once the guidelines were framed and issued, it would be mandatory for all schools across the State to follow them. “We are yet to decide on the action to be initiated against schools that violate the guidelines,” he said, indicating that schools will not be allowed to function in case of any violation.
There are as many as 49,000 government schools, over 17,000 un-aided schools and about 6,000 aided schools across the State.
Sources said a key recommendation would be setting up of a panel comprising the principal, school staff, police personnel, psychiatrist or psychologist and security personnel in each school to look into the issue of safety and security of children.
Besides this, the government is considering making it mandatory for schools to register their address, details of faculty members and student roster along with their address and contact numbers at the jurisdictional police station, installation of CCTV cameras on school premises, conducting background checks of candidates before they are given employment in schools, and ensuring that two people monitor CCTV camera footage every day.
The government is also keen on making it compulsory for schools in secluded places to hire licensed security providers.
To help probe into child sexual assault cases, the guidelines would most likely state that any obscene messages sent to children should be brought to the notice of the police, and complaints, if any, should be made to the committee.
Another key recommendation would be ensuring that the members of the committee are well-versed with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act).
Schools would also be asked to conduct workshops on “good touch and bad touch” to educate children, will be another suggestion.