New rules to improve safety for children in school buses

By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: April 18 – The government will have new regulations for school transport, which will make everyone from drivers, teachers, (school and ministry administration) and the bus operators equally responsible, said Dr Hamoud bin Khalfan al Harthy, Under-Secretary, Ministry of Education for Education and Curriculum. Speaking to the Observer, he said, “We expect the community schools in Oman to be more responsible and there have been no major complaints, except for the fatal ones involving the buses of Indian School Nizwa and Pakistan School Muscat.”

The Ministry of Education is working on a pilot project in cooperation with Mwasalat and Omantel for having advanced technology in buses, to begin with 500 vehicles, which will be increased to 1,000 buses. He said if school bus drivers take their responsibility seriously then there is no need for technology. The ministry is organising an exhibition on modern and safe school transportation, which will offer services, products and options for all stakeholders. The new regulations for private schools in the wake of some unfortunate incidents are concerned with security and safety of students.

Al Harthy said safety and security is a shared responsibility and urged parents to follow up on their child’s behaviour in buses. The ministry has put in place some rules for bus conditions and there is coordination with the Royal Oman Police and the Traffic Safety Institute to train school bus drivers. There are programmes to develop the curriculum, which will include lessons on security and safety of students. The ministry has taken a series of steps to improve the aspects of school transport, including modernisation of buses, regulations and laws, driving courses for school bus owners and drivers and having speed breakers and traffic guidance signs near schools.