As the festive season in the city has come to an end with everyone getting back to their routine lives, van drivers who pick and drop students of DAV international school find themselves in a grim spot.
DAV International School management made a decision to ban rickshaw and van drivers from bringing children to school. The decision was effective from November 11 noon after which the students were not able to commute back to their homes.
Ramesh Kalal, a van driver who has been dutiful to the school for over 12 years stressing on the reason for the decision said “Nine new buses are bought by the school, so this decision. ”
He further added that if the school had informed them earlier about the decision, they would not have had to keep their vehicles on EMIs for two years.
Equally frustrated parents
The decision has not only badly affected over 100 rickshaw and van drivers who have had a major financial setback due to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, but also the parents.
“Our son is a minor. We are working parents. We pay for this drop facility and it is a big relief. The school earns a lot but instead of hiring attendants to ensure kid safety, they pass on the burden to teachers who are obviously reluctant to do the job”, a parent whose kid studies in class 7 and lives in Vastrapur told Vibes of India.
Vibes of India (VO!) contacted principal
When Team VoI talked to the school’s principal Dr Nivedita Ganguly about this decision, she said, “The school teachers had to perform van duty – a non-teaching duty after the school hours for about one and a half hours daily as it was done in three rounds.”
“It was done in three rounds as for the first round, school buses would take children, then parents would pick up their kids and lastly the rickshaw drivers would be allowed. The rickshaw and the vans were not allowed on the campus,” said Kalal.
Ganguly said, “We understand the parents’ plight about the inconvenience as the van and rickshaws used to come to their doorstep while the buses do not.”
She even stated that she knew the drivers and named Rameshbhai but when Team VoI enquired, Rameshbhai denied the claims.
“We have talked to the transport and arranged for nine new buses fully equipped with safety necessities and also an application is being developed through which parents can track the bus and we are developing a route where all the kids are picked up from their doorstep,” added Ganguly.
“The teachers had always performed the van duty before the pandemic but the education system has changed a lot since then. According to the New Education Policy, remedial classes, extra tests after school has become compulsory with the hybrid (virtual and in-person) model of the education system and we cannot put pressure on teachers, otherwise, it will affect them mentally and physically,” said Ganguly.
Co-ordinator, Anu Lakhotia said, “The fees for buses and van fare does not vary much. For the closest distance, the school buses charge ₹1,100 while the rickshaw or van charge ₹1,000.”
However, one of the van drivers informed us that the minimum charges are applied only for distances as far as 1KM. For distances longer than that, the school buses charge over ₹1,750 and so on.