While the issue of safety and security at malls and hotels is gaining attention at different levels and receiving considerable attention in the country’s media ever since the disaster at the Villaggio Mall on May 28, it is doubtful if similar concern is shown to the safety and security of children at several schools across the country.
Even though stringent rules are in place that prevent companies from employing workers engaged in construction activities outside between 11.30am and 3pm and thus providing at least minimum levels of relief to a considerably large number of less fortunate people, the country’s residents are doubtful if similar attention is given to children at schools.
Visitors to schools, in particular those run for the expatriate communities, would be astonished at children playing under the scorching sun while teachers keep cool inside.
There are also confirmed reports of some schools hold morning assemblies outdoors in sweltering conditions.
One parent of a student in a school in the Al Sadd area went so far to say that he believes such extreme exposure may contribute to the poor health of the students at the institution. “When assemblies are held, at least three or four children collapse and they are taken directly to the paediatric emergency, sometimes by parents who are summoned by the school authorities at short notice,” he said.
Inquiries found such incidents are a regular occurrence at the school.
Some believe it is high time the Supreme Education Council (SEC) monitor expatriate schools so that no outdoor activities are held during the summer.
They believe a communication gap exists, especially between parents who have children studying at some Asian expatriate schools and the regulators. “And the schools are taking undue advantage of this seemingly huge gap,” said one parent.
Another angry parent even wondered aloud if some of the schools are in league with a certain medical centres, both with common promoters.
Another area over which the parents and children are angry is the poor air-conditioning in many school buses.
“Our repeated complaints to the school management have not yielded a positive result,” said a father, who recently had a heated argument with the school operator.
Equally deplorable are air-conditioners at some of the expatriate schools’ class rooms.
“The interest that some school operators is showing every year to increase the tuition and other fees are unfortunately not shown by them in giving better amenities to children at schools and buses,” said a mother.