KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — News of children returning home late or boarding the wrong school van, especially among pupils who have just entered school, often occur, despite not receiving extensive media coverage.
Only when the child failed to return until evening and was reported missing, then it would be reported or went viral on social media.
On March 30, an incident involving an eight-year-old girl who was said to have boarded the wrong school van and was later found near a residential area in Bandar Tun Razak, raised many questions about the safety of the little ones when returning from school.
Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye when asked about the issue, said parents and teachers should play a role in teaching children about their physical safety.
“Once school session ends, the question here is who is responsible after these children leave the school compound, this is a big problem, we can’t assume that the police officers will be outside to monitor … I think this is impossible to rely on police officers to monitor everything outside the school compound. Hence, for me, the most important aspect is prevention, through education and awareness.
“Schools should also raise the level of awareness among students that when they leave the school compound they must be careful and don’t talk to or follow strangers and if they need to board a bus or van then they must know which one to board,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
Apart from that, he also suggested that the school increase the level of security by installing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to facilitate the monitoring of students’ movements outside the school fence, thus facilitating the affairs of the authorities if something undesirable happens.
Sharing a similar sentiment, Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Melawati headmaster Aznam Mohamed said coordination between the school, parents and the community was very important in ensuring the safety of the children under his supervision.
According to him, the school has developed an orderly system to control the movement of students when leaving the school, especially for Year One, Two and Three pupils.
“As for my school, pupils who are using the van to go home, before boarding the vehicle will be gathered in groups according to their respective vans, as the school already has a list of names for the van that they are using to go home.
“I have also created a special WhatsApp group about school vans, and the drivers will enter the vehicle registration number. Once the teacher on duty receives the information about the van, he will then arrange for the children to be taken out of the school gates to be picked up by the van drivers … so this is to prevent undesirable incidents, so on.
Aznam also shared his experience when one of the students was suspected of missing.
However, through good coordination, the student was found when the driver of the van informed the school via WhatsApp that the student had mistakenly boarded his van and his quick action had helped many parties, especially the child’s parents.
Meanwhile, the National Parents and Teachers Association (PIBGN) Consensus Council chairman, Associate Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hasan opined that the safety of children should be the main responsibility of parents.
Apart from that, parents should not be complacent by hoping for the school alone to ensure the safety of their children, he said
“We hope parents to pay enough attention, do not be complacent, careless and focus on other things that are less important than the safety of their children,” he said.