The Indian Express talks to Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia on the need for more CCTV cameras, verification of staff and how parents should play an active part in the functioning of schools.
How is the CCTV project coming along?
We started a pilot CCTV project in 10 schools — it has taken off in five schools, and we are working on the others. Right now, as an emergency measure, we need to extend the CCTV network for better monitoring. I am working on a decentralised model in government schools — schools will install them and principals will find ways to maintain them. But this is just part of the solution. The biggest thing missing from society is the shrinking dialogue between parent and child. Apart from studies and food, parents don’t talk to their children about other things. There is an unpredictable atmosphere; we need to change that and take the child into confidence. We cannot have a relationship like the one between bosses and employees.
The conductor arrested in connection with the Ryan murder had lost his job as a driver at another school. How would you evaluate the security verification process in schools?
For government schools, we have hired big agencies to provide staff and conduct police verification. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening; even the government hasn’t been pushing enough. There was a centralised model in place. Now, we are placing the onus on the principals for the staff they hire. Similarly, private school principals should file a report on the DoE portal on the number of functional cameras, the staff they have hired and if they have been verified. This must be filed from next month. We will put this on automation mode so that we have real-time data.
Will this data be available on the DoE portal for parents to see?
I have asked the committee that has been set up if this can be implemented. I want CCTV footage to be stored for at least 15 days. If any parent says their child has complained of something, then there should be a standard operating procedure (SOP), where the parent can come and see the footage.
Are some schools skirting the verification process?
There have been lapses. I accept that the government did not take this very seriously. After this incident, we are ensuring that every guard and staffer is checked. We outsource the hiring process, but we need to make sure that the agency does police verification. We will have to enforce this. We need to learn from these tragedies and fix them.
What are the other issues that must be addressed?
For one, we need to have more parents in private school management committees. Right now, there is just a single parent in the committee. In government schools, each SMC has 10 parents. We are also looking at how safety audits can be done in schools and what SOPs must be in place. Keeping this in mind, the committee will form a consolidated security protocol.
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