Delhi govt gives nod to 'safe zones' in 24 schools – The Indian Express

The Delhi government has approved the development of ‘safe school zones’ around the city’s 12 private and 12 government schools, in a project which aims to let children have their say as co-designers of their school journeys.
The project is under the government’s transport department, and will be carried out by NGO HumanQind. Its initial scope is to work on one model safe school zone in every district. A school zone refers to the area in the vicinity of a school with a high footfall of children, and a ‘safe school zone’ places their safety first.
According to Ruchi Varma, the founder HumanQind, the idea is to have a community-centred approach to developing blueprints for the zones. The first step will be to collaborate with children, along with their parents and teachers, to understand how children travel to school.
“We will be looking at how we can co-design a safe school zone with all stakeholders, using a data-driven approach. We will be asking for accessibility data for all schools, and will be using it to customise our design-thinking process, and work very closely with school children to start with. Everyone has a say in this, including parents and teachers, and then we design a blueprint. This helps us define a safe school zone. The first thing will be to create a database of how children travel to school, on the basis of which we can respond to questions regarding accessibility,” she said.
Of the list of 24 schools, the organisation has already worked on co-designing a safe school zone plan with Class 4 students of DAV Public School in Vasant Kunj, which is currently in the tendering stage. This project will act as a model for the other 10 zones.
What school authorities thought would be a 25-metre zone eventually expanded to a 250-metre one after the co-designing process, covering a stretch that also includes three government schools. The plan has a footpath with tactile flooring for visually impaired and wheelchair-using children, and a cycle-way separated from the carriageway — during the process, children had said they wanted to cycle and walk to school. It also has space for park-related activities, seating outside for parents who go to pick up their children and parking space in the carriageway.
“When we were working with nine-year-olds, we found that establishing inclusion was very easy because they see every person as a friend… As for interventions, the focus is on two things — reducing conflict and speed. This reduction is through traffic calming measures in front of each of the five gates of the schools with table-top crossings. In general, children wanted the speed to be slow, they wanted people to man intersections, which is an enforcement issue,” said Varma. “One interesting thing is that many children from the economically weaker section said that if their school street has good lighting, they would go and study there since they don’t have that space in their homes and neighbourhoods. It shows how children consider their school zone as home,” she added.
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Sukrita BaruahSukrita is a correspondent primarily covering education for The Indian… read more

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