Early start to beat traffic blues

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Chennai: After the road accident that occurred in Kandanchava-di, Chennai, in which four school students who were travelling on the footboard lost their lives, the Chennai High Court has asked the educational authorities to change school and college timings to 7.30 am and 8 am respectively. Many parents and teachers, who believe that it’s always a good idea to begin classes early, have welcomed the decision. But will it really curb accidents, ask others.
G.J. Manohar, Headma-ster of Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School, believes that the changed timings will cause inconvenience initially, but is sure the children will be able to cope.
They may skip breakfast in the rush to reach school, he points out, but lifestyles and patterns of sleep and waking will have to change. He suggests trying the changed timings out over a month or two on a trial basis.
Another principal of a city school points out that since they already start their lessons  from 8 am, advancing this by half an hour will not cause undue inconvenience. With children fresh in the morning and ready to learn, they can return home earlier time to complete homework and practice their extra-curricular activities.
Changing times to avoid peak hour traffic may be a good thing in itself for children who will inhale less auto exhaust, but, as Shanthalakshmi, a retired teacher, says, it’s not the ultimate solution to avert road accidents.
“I worked in a government school for almost 30 years and interacted with children from under-privileged families. It used to be an ordeal for those children to commute to school every day because of the poor frequency of buses. When we used to have special classes, the children had to come to school at 7.30 am, and even on those days, they used to be late,” she observes. Accidents are a separate issue, and getting to school on time is, for several children, a major issue too.
Dr. Deepika M. Vijay, a parent, thinks that a change in timings is not the only  solution, but children will benefit if more buses ply. “Government ought to look at increasing the frequency of city buses to  lessen the travel burden on school students,” she avers.

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