Footage of CCTV cameras being monitored at the principal's chamber at Rajkamal Saraswati Vidya Mandir in Dhansar, Dhanbad, on Tuesday and (above) one of the surveillance gadgets installed at the entrance of the administrative building on the campus. (Gautam Dey)
The Dhanbad district administration has decided to conduct a safety review of all the 56 ICSE and CBSE schools in and around the coal capital in the wake of the brutal murder of a Class II student at a reputable Gurgaon cradle.
Seven teams comprising three members each will begin the extensive inspection from Wednesday, with DAV Public School (Koylanagar), Delhi Public School, De Nobili CMRI, Mount Carmel School (Dhanbad) and Rajkamal Saraswati Vidya Mandir (Dhansar) being among their first stops.
SDO Rakesh Kumar said the audits, led by district education officer (DEO), district superintendent of education (DSE) and five executive magistrates, would cover both the day campuses and hostels, besides all vehicles that ferry schoolchildren.
"Twenty-two locations, including the gates and toilets, will be brought under scrutiny. Each audit team will comprise, apart from the team leader, a school inspector and a clerical member. The teams will check if a headcount is done at the entry gate and the same cross-checked with attendance in class. They will check the coverage and functionality of CCTV cameras, among other things," Kumar said.
The SDO, who went into a huddle with DEO Madhuri Kumari, DSE Vineet Kumar Singh and others on Monday, said the access of non-teaching staff to different parts of the school; their police verification; and most importantly, the security of students during non-teaching hours (before the beginning of classes, at the assembly, during lunch break and after the final bell) would also be looked at.
Seven-year-old Pradyuman Thakur, a student of Ryan International School in Gurgaon, was found dead with his throat slit in the campus toilet on September 8. A school bus conductor was arrested on charges of attempted sexual assault and murder. The Ryan washroom has been found to have three windows with missing panes and grilles that could let anyone get in or out undetected.
SDO Kumar said schools were supposed to be a cocoon of safety for students and the safety audit would strive to facilitate the same.
"The teams will go beyond their call of duty to check if private vehicles ferrying children to and from campuses have authorisation to do so. Transport agencies hired by schools will also be put under the scanner to ensure they follow various safety protocol. The audit will be completed within a week," Kumar said, adding that the administration would issue directives to schools concerned based on the reports the teams filed.
Principal of DAV-Koylanagar K.C. Srivastava welcomed the move. "A proper audit and advisory, if any, will help us ensure greater safety for students. Currently, we do carry out periodic training of our staff, particularly those entrusted with the task of taking care of junior students."
Rajesh Singh, principal of Rajkamal Saraswati Vidya Mandir, said they were committed towards student safety. "Surveillance cameras cover a major part of our campus and we have uniformed members of staff. Police verification of drivers and conductors are done. Vehicles also undergo fitness tests," he added.