Negligence on the part of a school in Sharjah created panic among the parents of a four-year-old KG 1 student not once but twice, Khaleej Times has learnt. In the first instance, the boy fainted after he was forgotten on a bus for over four hours, while in the second, school authorities could not trace him for a long time after he sat in the wrong class.
According to the boy's parents, their son took the wrong bus to go home last week. On not finding their child at the usual bus drop-off spot, the parents contacted the school, who could not trace the child either. The worried parents lodged a complaint with the Sharjah Police, which assigned special officers to look for the child.
"The bus, which usually drops my son at the drop-off area, came without him. I talked to the driver of the bus and immediately rushed to the school along with my wife, but we could not find him. My wife started to panic, thinking the worst. While we were there, a bus arrived and parked in the parking area. His mother entered the bus and found the boy unctuousness on a seat," Sahmeh, the father of the boy, told Khaleej Times.
The boy reportedly suffered from dehydration and exhaustion.
When negligence turned fatal
October 7, 2014: A three-year-old Indian girl, Nizaha Alaa Ahmed, a KG1 pupil at Al Worood School, died from heat exhaustion after being locked in a school bus
April 24, 2008: A four-year-old Indian boy, Aathish Shabin, a KG1 student at Merryland Kindergarten in Abu Dhabi, died after he was left locked inside the school bus.
May 14, 2009: Aimen Zeeshan, a KG student from Pakistan at The Model School Musaffah, died in a private bus arranged by the parents to take her to school
Samheh said he went to the police station along with the school principal and withdrew the case because he "didn't want to harm anyone associated with the incident". "But it involves a clear case of negligence. I could not trace my child's whereabouts for many hours. It created fear and anxiety for us."
Moza Al Shoumi, deputy director of the UAE Association for Child Protection, said the school managements are responsible for ensuring the safety of the students. "Implementing the safety and security standards include assigning a supervisor for every school bus. It seems the bus in which the student was found did not have a supervisor."
The second incident happened two days later when the mother of the child approached the school to complete some administrative formalities. The authorities informed her that her son was absent, but she insisted that she had personally put the four-year-old on the school bus that morning.
During the search, he was found sitting in the wrong class.
"I decided to lodge an official complaint at the Sharjah Education Council (SEC) to intervene to stop such serious instances of negligence, which affect the safety of the students," said the father.
Dr Saeed Mussabah Al Kabbi, chairman of SEC, said the safety of students is its top priority. "We are currently working on a comprehensive plan to develop and enhance the safety system in private schools in the emirate," he said.
Al Shoumi urged all schools to instal smart systems on buses and be accountable. "Tough penalties will be slapped on those who do not follow the procedures since it is related to the safety of children."
Amna Al Shamsi, member of the board of directors of the Ajman Society for Social Development, said these kind of incidents occur due to lack of training for bus drivers and supervisors.
"Some private schools assign rental offices with the task of transporting students. They are not aware of the special laws and regulations associated with the school transport. Such incidents are serious offences as they can even cause deaths," she said.
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