Schools reopening: transportation of students remains a vexed issue in Kerala

A health worker spraying disinfectant inside a school in Palakkad, Kerala. File photo

A health worker spraying disinfectant inside a school in Palakkad, Kerala. File photo

With schools set to reopen in little over a month , transportation of students continues to remain a vexed issue.

Kept off the road for over a year and a half, schools will have to spend a small fortune to get majority of buses back into running condition. Besides, many schools have already sold off their buses unable to maintain them through the pandemic time when they weren't allowed to collect bus fee as schooling remained remote.

"Nearly 200 school and college buses sold in such manner, mostly by unaided schools, are now available in the second hand vehicle market in Muvattupuzha and surrounding areas. Though the business in used buses is usual during the start of every academic year, this time the number of such vehicles is many folds more," said Muhammad Kunju, a used vehicle dealer in Muvattupuzha.

T. P. M. Ibrahim Khan, President, Kerala CBSE School Managements Association, admitted that the sale of schools buses by managements unable to afford them was one of the many problems related to transportation of students.

"Operating school buses with only one student in a seat is just not feasible especially since most of the services operate through the interiors. This leaves the reopening of primary classes uncertain since students of higher classes can either avail other means or their parents will drop them considering the significance of public exams their wards have to take," he said.

Mr. Khan said that the government waiver of tax till the end of this month was redundant since schools were anyway entitled to that by law. What needs be done is a waiver for the rest of the academic period. "Also, the discriminatory vehicle tax between government and aided schools and unaided schools should also be done away with for which we have submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister," he said. While the former needs to pay only an annual tax of ₹ 4000, the latter has to pay ₹100 per each seat.

Meanwhile, the 879-strong Ernakulam District School Trip Drivers Association has started wooing back its members, majority of whom had gone for other jobs after their livelihood was hit as schools remained shut.

"We have already intimated the members. They remain hopeful of resuming services in compliance with the guidelines to be issued by schools in consultation with the parent teacher associations for the safety of students," said V. V. Praveen, district general secretary of the association.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 6:22:33 pm |