Every few months I attend the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings at my child's school. The agendas for meetings are always different, but what remains constant is the vociferous attention that the children's school transport gets. Our Transport Committee always has its hands full! Not surprising, considering how absolutely important ensuring a child's safe and comfortable commute to and from the school is, in a big city like New Delhi. Especially school bus safety!
The parent community as well as the school's administration are always working together to plan, execute and further improve on those ideas, to best suit changing times, children's needs and even seasons - from scorching summers to foggy winters. Because a lot of children from all parts of the city travel by the school bus. A few measures which can be a part of the school bus safety program are:
- Trained attendants on all buses. Their phone numbers can be shared with the parents and they can carry a list of children and the parents' phone numbers along with the stops at which they are to get off.
- A bus-wise list of parents and phone numbers can be created for the record and to create Whatsapp groups for each bus route. This will facilitate communication in case of a breakdown or an unexpected delay on any route.
- The school staff/teachers taking the bus to and from school can ensure proper seating with seat belts on and general discipline.
- "Bus buddy" system can be put in place for senior students to keep an eye on younger ones.
- The children should cooperate with the bus attendants at all points of their bus travel. They should follow instructions while boarding and getting off the bus.
- Regularly inviting suggestions for new school bus routes to be created, according to demand.
Once a proper school bus safety program is in place, more parents will be encouraged to send their children to school by the school bus. This helps in many ways! It is eco-friendly as lesser cars on the road mean lesser pollution. Traffic management and safety of walking children outside the school gates automatically becomes easier. What's more? Researches prove how our children learn to socialize and adjust better when they commute in the school bus with a bunch of kids from different ages and backgrounds. Plus, it's fun!
No surprise then that meaningful campaigns are being designed around this idea, like the novel Hamare Bus Ki Baat Hai by Tata Motors.
At the core of this campaign is promotion of safe travel of school children, by actively involving all the stakeholders - school authorities, support staffs, school bus fleet operators and parents. The schools can ensure safety measures like school bus safety training for the attendants and the parents in turn can educate their children about proper bus behavior.
Hamare Bus Ki Baat Hai aims to spread awareness and generate responsibility through fun, just like we parents like to teach our children important life's lessons - through fun and games. You must take the 'School Bus Safety Quiz' first and then even try your hand at the Puzzle. Finally, if you too think like I do that ensuring our children's safety on school buses is in our hands, do sign this Pledge before you go.
We owe it to our kids, don't we?