Abu Dhabi, UAE: The introduction of technology to monitor children on school buses has been applauded by parents and teachers.
Abu Dhabi Education Council and Emirates Transport Company said that from the start of the next academic year, buses carrying kindergarten and primary school pupils would have devices to keep track of the children’s whereabouts.
The measures come after the death of Nizaha Aalaa, 3, a pupil at Al Worood Academy Private School, who was locked on a school bus in October last year.
Eida Al Mansoori, an Emirati, said she preferred to drive her three children to school, partly because she did not fully trust the bus drivers.
She praised efforts to track the children through the new technology but said more needed to be done to train the drivers.
“A lot of drivers are not careful,” she said. “I don’t know how they get their licence.”
Nada A Q, 29, an Emirati, said the new technology should be welcomed “especially after the sad incident that happened”.
“It’s a great initiative and all parents will be more than happy to see these changes take place,” said Ms A Q, whose seven-year-old sister attends public school.
“I think this will make everything organised and it will help parents be assured that their kids are in safe hands.”
Emirates Transport general manager Mohammed Al Jarman said up to 1,300 buses would be equipped with ID card readers to register children as they got on the bus.
Adec said this would help “avoid forgetting students in school buses and monitor their movement” during travel.
The buses will also be fitted with “a loop counter that shows the number of students in each bus”, and a check-in button at the back of the bus to force the driver to walk down and verify that each seat had been vacated before he can press it.
Body sensors that can alert the driver if any child has been left behind will also be installed.
“The new technologies shall serve the best interest of students and prevent forgetting students inside buses,” Adec said.
Emirates Transport supplies buses to all public and some private schools in the emirate. Ms A Q said all school bus companies should be required to fit their vehicles with the electronic devices.
“The bad news is always coming from private schools,” she said. “In my opinion, if this can be applied to every bus in public and private schools, that would be great.”
An American mother of three children had more questions than answers about the announced changes.
“Companies can still neglect to service these technologies, resulting in problems,” she said. “Adec can still fail to monitor the actual reporting.
“If a child loses their key card, will they be unable to attend school? More likely they will get on the bus without being swiped. I think we need better management of personnel.
“The US buses have none of this technology yet I know of no children dying on buses in the US. Just an observation.”
Dr Ameena Al Majed, principal at Al Qadisya School, said parents would welcome the security provided by the monitoring devices.
“This is very good,” Dr Al Majed said. “We are using technology for the safety of the students. This, I think, is very, very good.”
Mr Al Jarman said Emirates Transport had also imported 200 new buses to modernise its bus fleet.
The company will be providing bus drivers and supervisors with training during school transport week before the start of the academic year.
© The National
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