School van hazards

Published January 16, 2015
Children travel to school in a van in Peshawar. — AFP/File
Children travel to school in a van in Peshawar. — AFP/File

IT is unfortunate that the general lack of humane values in our society should also manifest itself in the manner in which children go to school and return.

Packed like sardines in a four-wheeler that is unfit to be called a school bus, the children are without a chaperon who could ensure their safe journey and return.

A common sight is students standing precariously on the footboard, highlighting the indifference of school managements and education authorities to students’ lives and limbs.

Also read: Children on board, drive safely

As an ad published in yesterday’s issue of this paper shows, the Sindh government appears solely concerned with security matters and is oblivious to the hazards of students’ transportation.

Developed countries have strict rules regarding school buses to ensure children’s safety.

Invariably, school buses have a standardised body and colour so that they can be spotted, and traffic rules provide for all motorists to observe certain norms when a school bus is stationary, when it is in motion and when children are boarding or alighting. These are followed strictly, and tests for driving licences include questions on safety regulations regarding school buses.

There are websites which inform parents about possible changes in the pick and drop schedule due to the weather, and companies which run school bus services require a parent to be present at the appointed place to receive his/her ward. Besides, there are meetings between parents, teachers and bus operators to discuss safety concerns.

It is time the provincial transport department updated the rules regarding school buses to make the system more humane and compatible with life in many of our bustling cities where traffic discipline hardly exists.

To begin with it is not vans but buses that should carry students, and the law must make it compulsory for every school to provide a chaperon with every bus to keep a meticulous record, including the time when a student is finally home. Above all, motorists, pedestrians and society itself need to change their attitude towards the young and vulnerable.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2015

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