Ensuring safety of school children

Muscat, Sept 9 – A total of 296 school buses will be fitted with safety devices — the process began on Sunday — that will have a ‘motion detection alarm system’ that will set off an alarm if a student is found left behind. An initiative of the Directorate-General of Education in South Al Sharqiyah, it is expected to ensure the safety of 12,000 students. The device will also have a GPS tracker and a controller to start/stop the bus. The objective is to prevent unfortunate incidents in school buses like the kind witnessed recently. An eight-year-old died from suffocation after he was left behind in a school bus in Muscat.

The Ministry of Education, in a statement, expressed regret over the incident and said it had terminated the bus driver’s contract and filed a case against him. Urging the bus owners and drivers to follow safety and security procedures, the ministry said as per the contract, all drivers have to thoroughly check buses at drop-off points and keep windows partially open. With such incidents happening every year, many parents had called upon the ministry to find a solution to the problem. “Such incidents happen because of the drivers’ negligence. It will take only a few seconds to find if a student is on board,” said a resentful Fatima, the mother of a third-grade student.

Ahmed J, a parent, believes it is the responsibility of all parties. “Apart from the driver, the school administration and class teacher are also responsible.” He said they are all responsible for the safety of children. “Drivers should check the buses, while the administration should have supervisors on every bus. Teachers should get in touch with parents if any child is absent.” Activists on social media shared several ideas to ensure children’s safety in school buses. Some urged the private sector to take the initiative by providing funding, while others suggested local inventions to ensure safety.

Zainab al Nassri