SBOA parent-volunteers group regulates traffic in Chennai

Schoolday mornings are usually associated with traffic jams, a cacophony of blaring horns and parents checking their watch to see if their wards are running late for the day’s assembly prayer meeting.

But this is not the case in front of SBOA school, Anna Nagar, thanks to a group of 15 parents of past and present students who volunteer daily to help children get inside the campus safely. The group operates predominantly outside the West Gate entrance of the school on a road that is less than 30 feet. But still, they keep traffic flowing smoothly without needing police help.

Alerted to their yeoman services by a parent-volunteer, Suresh, News Today team hit the spot one morning to check out how they do it.

The school’s entrance is on the focal point of two perpendicular roads – West Gate road and 7th cross street. At 8 am when we reached the spot, there were already five parent-volunteers regulating the morning traffic. Lakshmi and another volunteer manned the pavements on either side of the entrance, ushering the children inside and nudging the parents to keep moving.

Meanwhile, Hariharan, Selvan, Rajesh and Prakash took guard on the West Gate street, preventing the cars and bikes from stopping for too long and also gently admonishing people who park on the middle of the road to drop their wards.

“Parents sometimes fight with us and question us as to what gives us the right to do it. But the fighting parents end up being our friends and even volunteer to regulate traffic. That’s how we all met, with a fight,” says Prakash laughing.

While this was happening on one end, Selvan and Hariharan made students who were dropped on 7th street to stand in a line. Once the lineup increased to 10 or more, Prakash and Rajesh would stop the vehicles and Selvan would walk the students inside the school.

This process is repetitive. Students were being dropped by their parents in bikes and cars and many arrived in buses, but never once was the traffic flow halted for more then five seconds in that small street! This speaks volumes for their efficiency. By the time the clock ticked to 8.45 am (when school gates close), there were almost 15 volunteers doing their duty.

Selvan, the most experienced in the group says that parents in this school have been volunteering to regulate traffic for close to 20 years as far as he knows. “It is refreshing for us to start the day like this helping the children and chatting with friends. Even though my son has passed out of school and graduated from college, I still like coming here, talking with other parents and helping out before starting my work.”

Suresh, who brought to our attention the group’s existence says that the same SBOA group model could be replicated in other schools as well. “There are a few schools where the police or school staff monitor and regulate traffic. At the same time, there are many schools, where its a complete chaos. This can be easily prevented with proper regulation.”

“The responsibility should be shared by parents, the local residents, school authorities and the police,” he surmises.

A Harsha Vardhan