Are bus nannies the safest way forward?
Clive Pierrepont, the Director of Communications of Taaleem Schools, which currently operates nine schools in Dubai, said all their buses only operate with female bus attendants.
He said: “It was a conscious decision right from the beginning to employ female bus nannies, as we have many young children – starting from ages five and up – who utilise school transport facilities.
“Parents too are reassured that their children are in safe hands.”
While Taaleem outsources the buses from Arab Falcon Bus Fleet, Pierrepont said the bus nannies are employed by Taaleem and many of them also work as teaching assistants with the respective schools, thus ensuring they have the experience and the qualifications to handle children with care.
“Our bus safety policy is also very stringent,” he stated. “The bus nanny maintains the contact numbers of parents and house help for each respective child. And should no one be there to collect the child from the bus, and then they are simply not let off.
“The policy in most cases is doorstep pick-up and drop-off.”
Taaleem currently hires approximately 40 buses across its nine schools, which include Uptown and Uptown Mirdiff Schools, along with Greenfield Community and Dubai British School, among others.
Quizzed if they would consider enhancing security by including CCTV cameras on board buses and Pierrepont said: “Till date, we’ve never had a single incident that would jeopardise a child’s safety in any way.
However, we are always looking at ways to ensure security and safety requirements are met on buses; so, we will not rule out anything at this point.”
Tom Matthews, Project Manager with Taaleem, added: “You can never be too safe when its our children who are in question, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure their safety is paramount.”
In the case of the four-year-old child who was recently raped on a school bus in Dubai, the perpetrator was none other than the bus driver who had worked with the school for 14 years. Would female drivers be the next best option?
Pose the question to Matthews and he did not rule it out. He said: “Bus drivers, before they are appointed, have to undergo a background check by the police to ensure everything is in place. But female bus drivers is an idea we should also consider as safety is our highest focus and we need to consider all options."
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