Safety and security in schools: Five Delhi principals speak

Safety and security in schools: Five Delhi principals speak

By DIBYENDU MONDAL | NEW DELHI | 13 February, 2016
The Ryan International student’s death earlier this month has brought the issue of safety and security within schools in the limelight.
Ryan International School student Divyansh Kakrora’s death after “falling” into a water tank on the school premises earlier this month, has brought the lack of safety and security of children within school premises to the forefront. The Sunday Guardian spoke to several principals from across Delhi about the safety and security arrangements in their schools. 
 
Ameeta Mulla Wattal
Principal, Springdales School, Pusa Road
Schools must ensure the safety and security of all students. Yet, irrespective of whatever I may do, this is a tall school building and I can’t cordon everything off and create “jails” for students. There are railings and a child may lean over and fall down, a child may be running on the  football ground and fall and hurt his/her head in a fatally. However, having said that, wherever we can, we should put our entire infrastructure in proper order to avoid any unforeseen incidents. Every day, we have two to three inspections. The school nurse, the estate officer, the supervisors and I go around to ensure that everything is in order and at the end of each day, I get a report on any damages or repair-related issues, and I personally go through. I believe all schools should maintain a log of the areas that need attention and that is how we can minimise the risk of any accident.
We have fire extinguishers in place. We also have crisis management and disaster management drills and fire drills in the school from time to time. Signage of all emergency exits and fire extinguishers should also be put across the school to help locate them faster.
Every classroom in our school has two doors for the easy movement of children at all times.  We are also taking care to cordon off all electrical cables from the reach of students. Areas having generators or electric pump room should be completely cordoned off with no access to children. Our lifts are manned. We also teach staircase etiquettes to our children to avoid any stampede like situation.
We do have CCTVs but I believe that people belonging to the school should go around the premises from time to time. 
 
Dr D.R. Saini, Principal
Delhi Public School (DPS), R.K. Puram 
We have 44 CCTV cameras around the school, which are being constantly monitored. All teachers have also been allocated their respective areas and duties for vigilance and they are supposed to report immediately on any infrastructural damage or any area they feel should not be accessible to children for being unsafe. The management is also providing them with the required resources to make sure all children are safe inside this campus. We have also roped in extra manpower to actually take rounds of the school and physically check any faults. We also conduct security audits, wherein the school issues orders every 15 days to seek report on the security status of our school so that I am aware of everything.
Having said all that, I would say accidents do happen, but we should take utmost care to avoid such instances and if at all they happen, we should be proactive in reaching out for first aid or a doctor at the earliest. 
 
Sister Janet, Principal,
Convent of Jesus and Mary 
The school takes utmost care to see that children do not go into restricted areas within the campus. I myself go around to inspect places which need attention or which are out of bounds. If there is a digging done within the campus, we make sure it is barricaded or covered and all proper signals are in place to indicate it as an unsafe zone. We also keep the terraces locked and water tanks covered. We also have CCTV cameras around the schools and even in classrooms to constantly monitor the activities of the children.
Once children are within the campus they are safe, but once they are outside the campus, I cannot assure anything.
Yet in spite of all these things, unfortunate incidents can happen. Children may hurt themselves while playing, but the school should be ready to deal with such a situation of medical emergency when it arises.
Also, school buses are an extended part of the school and we have deputed teachers to look after the transport system too. 
  
Ritu P. Solomon, 
Principal, Queen Mary’s School, Tis Hazari
Since ours is a girls’ school, we have very tight security in place once the school starts. In order to enter the school, one has to pass through three security gates and our guards around the school are also very vigilant in this regard. We do not allow parents or for that matter even the police to enter our school without my permission.
All electrical panels in and around the school are securely put within a wooden cabinet. Our entire nursery department is solar powered so that no loose wires are involved. The fire extinguishers’ licences are renewed and proper signage made around the school to locate the nearest fire extinguisher.
We do have a sewage tank, but it is always kept covered with a heavy cemented slab and that area is strictly out of bounds for children.
We also have a swimming pool, but we take adequate caution to ensure children are safe while swimming or when they are around the pool. We have a lady coach along with two lifeguards always stationed near the pool area. In spite of all this, accidents can happen, and for this, we also have medical emergency available. We have a nurse on duty at all times as we also have a hostel.
The supervisors of the school take care of all the nitty-gritty of the school and give me a report on a daily basis. Our four gates are used for smooth dispersal of students and avoid chaos.
 
Pundrikaksh Kaudiny, 
Principal, Rajkiya ­Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Raj Niwas
I myself take rounds of the school to ensure that the premise is safe for children.
We do not allow any outsider to enter the school during schools hours. Even parents have stipulated time to enter the school. 
If a pit is dug somewhere in the school, we ensure it is covered or out of bounds for children. We ensure that all sewages and water tanks are covered and locked at all times. 
All subject teachers are asked to take attendance in each class so that it comes to our notice if a child is missing at any point in time. 
We also have CCTV cameras around the school and I personally monitor them to ensure discipline in the school.
 

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