Schools say education their business, not transport

A workshop by the Regional Transport Office (RTO), Andheri, on Thursday aimed at making the school bus policy for safe transport of children clearer turned into a platform for schools to oppose many of the rules.

Representatives of several schools made it clear that setting up of a Transport Committee in schools was not their business. Principals of over 335 schools attended the workshop. Bus owners associations also sent their representatives.

Besides safe transportation of students, the state government policy requires every school to set up a Transport Committee to look into matters like bus fee and identification of bus stops. The principal chairs the Committee, which should have a representative each from the Parent Teachers' Association (PTA), Traffic or Police of the area, the RTO of the area, bus contractor, local/civic authority and an Education Inspector.

"Most schools are not even aware of such a committee. Very few have one and whenever there is any mishap on a school bus, there is confusion over the policy. The schools are supposed to conduct a meeting of the committee every three months. Most schools that attended the workshop today refused to form transport committee," said a senior RTO official.

Among those present at the two-hour session on the premises of RTO office in Andheri were principals and bus operators. The RTO officials were clarifying doubts pertaining to the guidelines when schools objected to some of the rules. The workshop was organised to review implementation of the school bus policy in the western suburbs.

RTO officials said schools are shirking responsibility by not forming a transport committee and refusing to put all bus operators under an agreement/ contract. Many schools, however, said their responsibility was to impart quality education and not keep a tab on bus contractors.

"Our responsibility is to impart education. The government cannot force us to sign agreements with school bus operators," said S C Kedia, secretary, Unaided Schools Forum.

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