The school education department has decided to install 18 CCTV cameras and biometric attendance system at all 41 governmentrun schools in Bengal, including two primary teachers training institutes, from the current academic session.
All the CCTV cameras will be installed in public spaces on school premises that are accessible to outsiders. It is part of the upgrade of the school’s security system proposed by a self-regulatory commission set up by chief minister Mamata Banerjee in 2017 to oversee the functioning of private schools and their ever-increasing fees. “The panel has suggested some safety guidelines for schools and we decided to start with implementing them at government-run schools,” a source said.
The circular, to be issued by the education department, also specifies the locations where the cameras will be installed. “It includes areas, such as corridors, outside toilets, near the headmistress or headmaster’s rooms, main and other gates of the campuses, libraries, laboratories and if necessary, outside classrooms,” the source said. Education minister Partha Chatterjee has already given a go-ahead to the upgrade.
The aim of starting a biometric attendance system for teachers is reportedly to keep a tab on them attending school and taking classes. “We receive several complaints about teachers being absent or not taking classes or leaving before time. This system will help us monitor the situation,” said a Nabanna source. “Moreover, we want to offer the same infrastructure in government schools as in private institutes to boost parents’ confidence.”
Saugata Basu, secretary of West Bengal Government School Teachers’ Association, said, “We need to know where the CCTVs will have to be installed. If they are put up on the playgrounds, at gates or even at the canteens, it will mean students’ behaviour will be monitored and that will be beneficial for schools. But if the purpose of the government is to set up cameras to put teachers and other staffers under the scanner, the policy will not work out. In that case, teachers’ activities inside staffrooms and outside classrooms will be questioned at every step.”
Basu is also sceptical about the biometric attendance system for teachers. “It can be bypassed if finger identification machines are installed. Fingerprint can be duplicated. The mechanism can work only if finger identification and cards are introduced simultaneously,” he said.
Among the other proposals is setting up of smart labs at all state schools.
Source: Times of India