Parents' trust in Gurugram private schools shattered
GURUGRAM: While a sea of angry parents and protesters protested outside Ryan International School in Bhondsi over the callous and careless security inside the school premises, grieving parents and relatives of seven-year-old Pradhyuman Thakur cremated his body on Saturday
The boy, a student of the school, was on Friday murdered brutally by a bus conductor Ashok Kumar, who slashed the boy's face from the ear lobe all the way to his throat with a vegetable cutting knife.
This is not for the first time in Gurugram when a murder has taken place within the school premises or school staff has sexually abused a student. Yet, no attention seems to have been paid by private schools in Gurugram to improve security of their students.
The vulnerability of students within the school premises was first felt in 2007, when a Class VIII student shot dead his counterpart with a licensed gun he had stolen from his father.
The district authorities back then announced that strict screening procedures will be implemented on staff and students in all schools.
However, the brazenness with which Kumar not only entered the school, but even went into the washroom with a knife and killed the seven-year-old exposes all of the security claims.
In August last year, a four-year-old girl student of a reputed private school in Sector-56 was raped by a bus conductor in the school bus.
What is more alarming is that over 80 sexual assault cases have already registered under POCSO Act this year in Gurugram.
Though the occasional punitive action has been taken by the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) against school buses for violating safety guidelines, the situation shows no improvement.
Most school buses in the city still have neither a CCTV camera, nor a woman assistant.
Ramesh Kumar, one of the parents protesting at Ryan International School, said: "While the focus is on lackadaisical approach of the school, there is a deep rot in the education system of the city. Despite charging hefty fee, most of these schools compromise on basic services, like security."
Haryana Education minister Ram Bilas Sharma on Saturday too pointed out that private schools were abdicating their responsibilities.
Taking note of the growing anger, Vinay Pratap Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram said: "We have formed a committee that will survey the security arrangements in all private schools of the city within two weeks."
The painful words of Jyoti Thakur, mother of the deceased Pradhyuman, highlight how the incident has broken the trust of parents. "We had saved our money so that our son can get an education in a good institution. But, in the end, because of the school management, it amounted to nothing."