Safety certificates: Schools offered ‘leniency’ this year

Now, existing institutions need not get one

Last year, the Department of Primary and Secondary Education decided to strictly enforce fitness and fire safety rules in all schools, existing as well as new applicants. However, it appears to have changed its priorities in the backdrop of COVID-19 and after lobbying from private school managements, said sources.

Last November, the department had a circular mandating that schools must obtain non-objection certificates (NoC) from the Fire and Emergency Services Department and the Building Fitness Department.

However, earlier this week, the department decided to do away with these rules for existing schools for this academic year. A new committee will be established to look into the modalities of this and submit their recommendations.

The move comes after private school managements lobbied that the rules be relaxed for existing schools. Many managements had submitted requests urging the department to withdraw the circular.

With the reprieve, schools that need to renew their affiliation, add additional sections, or introduce new course combinations, need not submit these documents. However, managements or organisations that want to apply for permission to start new schools still have to submit these documents.

While the move has been welcomed by school managements, parents have criticised the government.

Santosh S., a father of a class VII student, said, “My son studies in a school that is 15-years-old and they have no fire safety measures in place. The government should have not revoked the circular as it is in the interest of students’ safety”.

However, D. Shashi Kumar, general secretary of Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, defended the stance and said that many existing schools were being harassed owing to these norms.

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