Provide a secure infrastructure; timely medical help; rapid action on complaints reported by students; prevention of bullying, corporal punishment, discrimination and abuse of psychoactive substances; and strict implementation of the covid-19 guidelines. The Center has issued new guidelines establishing the responsibility of schools for child safety, and failure to comply can result in fines, and even withdraw recognition from schools.
The “Safe and Secure Schools Guidelines” were prepared by a committee of experts following an order from the Supreme Court. The order had come in response to a written request filed by the father of a student who was found murdered at an international school in Gurgaon in 2017, seeking a directive to set guidelines for setting the responsibility of school principals. regarding the safety of children studying in schools.
Guidelines shared by the Department of School Education and Literacy of the Department of Education with States and Union Territories (UT) on October 1 indicated that the school principal or principal or the school principal who is responsible for ensuring the safety of children in schools and parents play an important role in monitoring whether the school is fulfilling its responsibilities. “When a child is in school, the school has actual charge or control over a child, and if the school willfully neglects the child, in a way that may cause the child unnecessary mental or physical suffering , this can be treated as a violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, ”he said.
Defining “Safety” as protection against unwanted unintended threats or dangers, and “Safety” as protection against unwanted intentional human behavior or actions, the guidelines stated: “A safe school environment is therefore an environment that protects against all dangers and creates an environment of harmony promoting the physical, socio-emotional and psychological well-being of all.
These guidelines will be implemented in addition to any existing school safety guidelines.
The guidelines identified 11 categories of neglect for which school authorities will be held accountable. This included neglect in establishing a secure infrastructure, neglect related to security measures, neglect in the quality of food and water provided on campus, delay in providing medical assistance. to students, neglect in taking action against a complaint reported by a student, neglect of the corporal punishments including mental and emotional harassment, neglect in preventing bullying, discriminatory actions, substance abuse on school premises, inaction in the event of a disaster or crime; and neglect in the strict implementation of the Covid-19 guidelines which may pose a threat to the safety and security of students, among others.
The guidelines also set out different sections of the Juvenile Justice and Prevention of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2015, or POCSO, (amendment) bill, 2019, under which school administrations can be held responsible for the above-mentioned negligence.
They suggest that in the event of non-compliance, the parent-teacher association of private and unassisted schools can approach the Block Education Officer (BEO). If grievances are not resolved at the BEO level, the matter should be raised with the District Education Officer (DEO) who can discuss the matter with the District Collector (DC) / District Magistrate (DM) . The DM / DC will investigate.
If it turns out that the school did not respect the safety instructions, a fine equivalent to 1% of the total income generated the previous year will be imposed. The fine can increase up to 3% and 5% for second and third complaints of non-compliance and even schools can be banned from admission, according to guidelines. If the complaint persists, the DC / DM may escalate the issue to the state school education department / UT. They can lead to the derecognition of schools, specify the guidelines.
The Center called on all states and UTs to place conditions setting the responsibility for the safety and security of children in schools to the principal / principal / head of school, while recognizing schools.
The guidelines suggested that the school administration conduct a thorough inspection of the school at least quarterly, during school hours; should organize a “safety walk” throughout the school premises to ensure compliance with standard safety measures; integrate safety learning as an activity for students; organize training for teachers on their roles and responsibilities; prepare and post the school safety and security plan; establish a Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) Grievance Committee within one month of the start of each school year; and set up an anti-harassment committee.
States and UTs have also been urged to ensure that all schools follow the guidelines.
According to the document shared with all states and UTs, the guidelines are based on three key principles: “accountability framework” using existing legal provisions; “Whole school approach” by integrating safety and security aspects into education itself, including deliberations on the health, physical, socio-emotional, psychosocial and cognitive aspects of safety and security at school. school ; and at the same time “respond to multisectoral concerns” to continue to create a secure society.
The overall implementation plan to make schools safe and secure will be known as “DRISHTI” which will operate on seven basic stages: dissemination, deployment, interventions, support, ownership, monitoring and incentive.