All private schools in the state will have to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in their premises within six months to ensure the safety of students, said a government resolution (GR) issued by the state school education department on Monday.
This decision follows a Bombay high court order on January 12, directing all schools in the state to think about installing CCTV cameras in the light of a recent incident in which a nine-year-old girl was molested by a member of the canteen staff in a Dadar school.
According to the GR, school managements should start the process of installing the cameras in areas that need to be monitored from the viewpoint of students’ safety.
“They should be fixed in key areas that need to be under scrutiny and necessary steps should be taken to ensure they function smoothly throughout the year,” stated the resolution issued by Ramchandra Gunjal, deputy secretary of the department.
Education officers have been instructed to check on schools every six months to ensure schools have installed cameras and if they are functioning properly.
Many schools in the city have already installed CCTVs in the past couple of years on demand from parents. “It has become a necessity to install CCTVs,” said Savita Venkat, principal, Bombay Cambridge School, Andheri (East). “We had installed them three years ago.”
As schools will have to bear the expenses on the equipment, aided private schools, which depend on government grants, might not be able to afford high-end cameras. But experts said they can start with a few cameras to begin with. “It is true that some schools may not be able to afford them. But these cameras are available in different price ranges, so schools can opt for cheaper ones initially,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal, St Mary’s School (ICSE) Mazgaon and joint secretary, Archdiocesan Board of Education that runs 150-odd schools in the city.
Swamy said parents should be willing to bear the cost. “If schools take parents into confidence, they will also be able to help bear the cost,” said Swamy. “Safety of students is a concern shared by schools and parents alike.”
The GR is applicable to all private schools — primary, secondary and higher secondary — from all mediums. This also includes government-aided schools as they are also run by private managements. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has set aside funds in its budget for CCTVs in its schools.
Principal secretary, school education, Nandkumar said it would be mandatory for all schools to install the cameras. While the GR’s instructions are applicable for private aided and unaided schools, Nandkumar said the state was in the process of evaluating the expense for government schools. “We have started the process to draw estimates on how much it will cost us to install it in the state run schools. Once budgets are approved necessary steps will be taken to install it in government schools too,” he said.