Measures to ensure school safety
A prepared school is a safe school
By: Gh. Hassan Bhat
Recently in district Baramulla (Aspirational Dist) under NITI Ayog concluded a comprehensive capacity building programme in which some 2000 teachers participated and came to terms with the concept as well as structural nuances of ‘school safety’. They were also trained in order to mitigate any emergency challenge in future. School safety is actually a wholesome concept encompassing safety and security of all stakeholders in and outside the school. In general, it means to have sound school atmosphere free from abuse, violence, bullying, pilfering and all other aspects which often impede the academic and learning community to attain the highest standard of ethos and other life skills.
School Safety does not only include physical safety of children but emotional, mental, psychosocial wellbeing of the learners to provide them safe stress-free environment and conducive teaching learning process in the classrooms. Some crucial safety aspects like maintenance of existing infrastructure, cyber security, food safety hygiene, MDM cleanliness and strong PT interaction must be given foremost priority.
This School Safety also contains protection from other natural hazards like pandemics, fires, earthquakes, landslides, floods, transportation etc. Our educational institutions are always susceptible to different natural disasters and children are most vulnerable section. Recently deadliest earthquake of TURKEY in which over 40000 people have been died, thousands injured and buildings collapsed. As geologists have already apprise us that living on seismic zone 4 and 5 means anything can happen anytime as we witnessed a moderate earthquake some days before this holy Ramzan. In this case training of teachers and other stakeholders plays a decisive roll to respond to such situation that threaten or impinge student safety. Practices like Drop, Hold and Cover, rushing towards door, corners and open spaces if possible to escape from tree, buildings and wires etc. must be conducted in schools premises to train our students.
Fire is also one destructive hazard which can occur anytime anywhere and teachers, councilors must aware their students to different fire emergency tips. Training on use of Fire Extinguishers, exit gates, mock drills, drop, down and crawl exercise and use of First Aid etc to minimize the damage. Road safety workshops to be conducted in schools and all necessary guidelines should be given to students to avoid any misfortune. Flood related precautionary measures be discussed on routine basis. Knowledge about Weather Forecast should be given utmost importance to predict about landslides and avalanches.
It is pertinent to mention that these disasters cause more hard to those who are unprepared for them. So ensure we all are prepared. Conduction of disaster related mock drills in collaboration with NDRF/FIRE Station/Police and make student community familiar with all Emergency numbers. Besides it, all stakeholders should check student school routes and respond promptly over. Awareness about control of different pandemic diseases by encouraging them to follow all safety SOPs.
Need is to implement the whole school safety framework (WSSF) which includes Disaster Risk Reduction, Child Protection and Health Sanitation etc. For successful implementation Disaster Management, School Safety and Anti Bullying Committees should be formed in every institution. In addition different suggestion boxes are to be placed so that students can drop complaints and observations of their school. Schools should also be declared free smoking zones and free Drug zones. Knowledge of POCSO Act, JJ Act, RTE Act 2009 etc and other constitutional safeguard Articles and measures should be imparted to student community in a more robust way.
School Education Dept (SED) should come up to some more strenuous efforts and take the ownership of the programme and conduct their own departmental programmes with respect to School Safety and Security. Need of the hour is to conduct more orientation and capacity building programmes to train teachers and other stakeholders and more importantly explore different possibilities of insuring school buildings particularly in danger prone areas and have preventive, mitigation and preparedness measures.
The writer is a Govt. Teacher, Resource Person Tangmarg, Baramulla Kashmir and can be reached at [email protected]