Though city schools have welcomed the state government’s order making CCTV cameras mandatory in all schools, private school managements fear they would be unable to bear the expenses for installing the cameras. A recent survey across private schools done by the Independent English Schools Association showed that at least 53 per cent schools have already installed CCTV cameras. Most managements say that for those operating ‘budget’ schools, this will prove to be a challenge and especially for those that operate in semiurban and rural areas.
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At Chikali’s Dnyansagar English Medium School, supervisor Pratibha Chakravarty, who looks after school affairs, said that last year the management did take quotes from vendors for installing CCTV cameras. “Our school fees are not more than Rs 7,000 annually per student and in this, we cover tuition as well as co-curricular activities. It is not possible for us to keep aside money for anything else on this sparse budget and that’s why we have dropped the idea then. Ideally, the government should either provide financial aid or subsidise these cameras for us so we can afford them. Or at least give us enough time to raise funds from parents and community to install these cameras,” she said.
President of IESA, Jagrutti Dharmadhikari, who runs a budget school Saraswati Bhuvan English School, said that at her school too she barely managed to install a few CCTV camears a month ago. “I had called the education officer a couple of days ago to know the deadline by when we have to complete the installation and he said till the next inspection. I think it will be very tough on the budget schools to mobilise funds at such short notice. Also, even for other schools that already don’t have cameras, the only source of income is through fees. But today, even a nominal increase in fees is leading to parent agitations and threats from education officers, so it would have been better if the government had suggested solutions on how to raise money like nominal increase in fees to meet these expenses,” she said.
Keeping the budgetary concerns aside, managements said that having schools under CCTV surveillance is advantageous to avoid or control any kind of malicious activities happening on the campus.
Rajendra Singh, CEO of Priyadarshini School, where a blackmailing bid was once foiled usind a video camera, said he has at least 35 CCTV cameras in each school building.
“Recently at the meeting of the association of private schools, we resolved that all memebers will install CCTV cameras. Not only is it imperative for the students’ safety but also safeguards school management and staff from external threats,” he said.
When asked, most private school managements said they had installed CCTV cameras — especially at gates and corridors. Dharmadhikari said that IESA’s survey had revealed the vulnerable areas such as playgrounds, library, activity rooms, sports rooms, underground parkind and toilets at the end of corridors where CCTV cameras are needed.
Parents too are happy with the move and some say they would even be willing to support the school for the additional expense. Reema Sathe, whose child studies in a Camp area school where there are no CCTVs in classrooms or the playground, said, “These are the areas where a child spends the maximum time away from home and I don’t mind shelling out additional money if a move like CCTV camera is considered. It will not only be a deterrent for those indulging in untoward activities but can be used to find out the truth later.”