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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Schools get green signal on road safety

Anahita Mukherji I TNN

Mumbai: If you are a school principal who has been trying in vain to drive home the need for road safety among students, how about getting them to man the signal outside your institution?
    If you are keen on the idea, then Mumbai's assistant commissioner of police (traffic) Amarjit Singh has just the thing for you. While addressing a few hundred school teachers and principals at a function to commemorate the closure of the 20th National Road Safety Week on Wednesday, Singh spoke of the need for more schools to come forward and adopt the Road Safety Patrol (RSP) programme run by the traffic department in which students be
come RSP cadets.
    The programme, for students from Stds V to X, involves both the theory and practical side of road safety. Schools need to appoint a warden, usually the school PT teacher, for the RSP cadets. Currently, there are 472 schools which are a part of the programme, with 100 others gearing up to adopt it.
    "An RSP cadet is as valuable as an NCC cadet,'' says M P Sharma, principal of G D Somani School, which has been a part of the programme for over 25 years. Students, who have undergone the full threeyear RSP training, receive certificates that is beneficial for those who want to join either the defence force or the police department.
    Not all children get to patrol the
streets. The students are first put through a rigorous training programme. "We conduct practical training in the form of a game, where we simulate a road with cars and students are given points for manoeuvring their vehicles through the street without breaking any rules,'' said Singh.
    While 50 girls from Anjuman-I-Islam's Saif Tyabji Girls School are a part of the RSP programme, they haven't yet ventured out to man traffic. "But they are so keen to handle traffic that we are soon going to depute them on the road outside school,'' said school principal Najma Kazi.
    In addition to traffic, Singh also discussed the need for disaster preparedness in schools. "If there's an
earthquake, remember three things—Drop, Cover and Hold on. If you're in a classroom, this translates into falling to the ground, getting under the desk and holding on to it,'' he added.
    Among the other disasters, Singh spoke of floods, fire, and the latest disaster on Mumbai's list—terror. A bomb, said Singh, can be hidden in a whole range of items, from watermelons to dolls and from the plaster cast used for a fracture to the clothes on a person's body.
    While several schools are now accustomed to bomb scares caused by hoax calls, Singh discussed the ways in which to ascertain whether a caller on the phone talking of a bomb planted in the school was genuine or simply bluffing.

RIGHT TURN: ACP (traffic) Amarjit Singh and principal of Poorna Prajna High School, Aruna Galgali, at the road safety meet


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