HOW SAFE ARE OUR SCHOOLS – III
Team Herald continues to monitor the ground reality in various campuses across the State following the recent breach of security and sexual assault in a Vasco school. Our correspondents visited Mahamaya HS in Mayem, St Tereza of Jesus HS, Chaudi and Navdeep Vidyalaya, Shiroda.
Mahamaya High School, Mayem
An internal rift, a court case and even a former governor’s rebuke has done little to enhance security at a school in Mayem.
The Mahamaya High School provides education to about 150 students from Std V to SSC. Though the school has a fence and a gate, there is no security guard to monitor the entry and exit of people at the school. The school lacks from basic facilities and other amenities due to an internal rift. Towards one side of the building lies an incomplete structure of proposed classrooms. “The structure is pending for over 15 years after there were allegations about some misappropriation of funds and the case is pending in court,” remarked a villager.The dilapidated building was criticised by a former governor some years ago, during his visit to Mayem. He had expressed surprise over the poor condition of the building and had assured to look into the matter. He had also directed the school management to follow up on the pending work of the classrooms.
Besides the weak structure and the lack of a security guard, what makes students particularly vulnerable to a security threat is the fact that students are allowed to leave the school during recess, either to visit a nearby shop or even for a quick visit at home.
St Tereza of Jesus High School, Chaudi-Canacona
Located in the heart of Chaudi town and with two of its sections divided by the national highway, students at the St Tereza of Jesus school are sitting ducks for any kind of threat, before, during and after school hours.
Maintaining surveillance of all children and at different times is a daunting task for school authorities.
What makes the 738 students exposed to various security threats is the fact that both sections of the school are barely metres away from shops and restaurants in the commercial Chaudi town. In fact, the school is located so close to the market, that the recent Chaudi feast fair was set up touching the verandah of the school’s main building. Moreover, students are prone to road mishaps as the primary and secondary sections of the school are separated by the national highway. The school management has to frequently remind authorities to post a policeman to regulate traffic near the school building.Despite all the difficulties, school authorities claim to have initiated steps to enhance security during school hours, to avoid the repetition of the shocking incident at a Vasco school.
“We have convened a meeting of teachers and all have been asked to be extra vigilant in view of very fragile location of our school. We have ensured that the main school building gate is kept compulsorily locked during school hours. We do not allow children to move out of the building during recess,” informed the school headmaster Alleluia Pereira.
Navdeep Vidyalaya, Taravalem-Shiroda
When students of a school located on a hillock are forced to answer nature’s call in the bushes, they become an easy prey for those with devious minds.
This is the situation at the Navdeep Vidyalaya in Taravalem-Shiroda, which imparts education to around 200 students. In the absence of proper toilet facilities, students have to urinate and defecate in the open. To make matters worse, the school building is surrounded by bushes and a thick forest. A gate has been erected at the entrance to restrain outsiders, who make their way after the school is closed in the afternoon, but one can easily gain access in the premises as no security guard is deployed at the gates.
“There has been no case of molestation so far, but we can’t take any risk and compromise on the security of students,” said a teacher of this school.“Many youth come here with their partners in vehicles with tinted glasses and sit here for long. Although the matter was reported to the police, they are yet to patrol the area,” the teacher added.
Two roads which lead to this school premises are also surrounded by bushes, making it easy for perverted persons to target the unsuspecting students.The bus stand is around 600 metres away from the school and many teachers are afraid to walk alone along the lonely route. So, while the State is deliberating on the installation of CCTVs in schools, this school in Shiroda is more than happy to get basic facilities that would contribute to the security of its students.
(With inputs from Sameer Umarye, Kathy Pereira & Sanjay Borkar) [H]