Can we have CCTV please?
Can we have CCTV Please
The news that the Delhi government is going to install CCTV cameras in all the classrooms of various Delhi Govt schools and that the parents should be given access to see the classroom processes, is making headlines in the media.
Professor Krishna Kumar has written a very well-thought piece arguing against the installation of CCTV cameras in Delhi Government Schools. In principle, no one can challenge the stand Prof. Kumar has taken in his article for Indian Express.
Prof. Kumar has argued about the futility of this plan on the basis of the following premises.
He argues about the maintenance of CCTV cameras and that these might not work perfectly for a long time.
He apprehends and further quotes examples that CCTV cameras, in the past, could not solve security problems in schools.
CCTV cameras hamper teachers and schools to incorporate innovative practices, for which autonomy is the prior condition.
Delhi Government’s decision to install CCTV cameras in the schools need to be seen in a concrete context with a wider perspective. The government is working in a very adverse, excruciating and grim conditions. There is a sinister campaign against the public education system and in most of the states, the government is under the influence of such sinister campaigns. The reports highlighting the fact that government schools are being closed down are pouring in, frequently from different parts of the country. Perhaps, this is the last chance when any Government is toiling hard to revitalize the public education system. We need to see the decision of the government in this larger perspective.
The only thing which can bring back a new life in the public education system is to bring back the confidence of the parents. Delhi Government is actually leaving no stone unturned in bringing back the confidence of the parents, the confidence of the common people in the government school system. For this purpose, the government has taken several new initiatives. Installation of CCTV cameras, in my view, is one such initiative taken by the Delhi government.
I think that Government schools suffer a lot because of certain academic debates and one such debate is about the medium of instruction. The academia settled the debate on the pretext that children must be taught in their mother tongue as this may help them understand things better. The result is that parents moved their kids out of the government school system to get them admitted to the private school system. This, I see as one of the major defeats of the government school system. Though the debate related to the installation of CCTV cameras and medium of instruction cannot be equated, still it gives me a sense that it is an opportunity for the government to win the confidence of the people. Why will people send their kids to private schools if they have CCTV cameras in government schools?
We need to see that Delhi government is trying to re-establish the credibility of the government schools. It tried to fix the first problem which disenchanted people from government school system and that was the problem of infrastructure. In just three years of time, there is a complete turnaround in the quality of infrastructure. Anyone in Delhi can walk around and may check the veracity of this claim. Bad infrastructure was a big loophole related to the government school system and Delhi government through its herculean efforts have been quite successful in fixing it effectively.
I do not disagree with what Prof. Kumar has argued about the autonomy of teachers. Being a teacher, I love this advocacy. However, I want to draw the attention towards a more pertinent question. We as teachers, keep our fingers crossed about the stability of our job. Every time, we read the news that government has closed these many numbers of schools in a particular state, we become worried and concerned about our own job. Teachers teaching in the government school, are facing survival crisis across the states. In this time of crisis, we would welcome any such steps taken by the government which would reposit the faith of the people in the government school system. It will save our job. I feel that the opportunity to work with the government schools has given millions of teachers a quality life across all states of India.
The other merit, I see with CCTV cameras being installed in schools is that it will provide a boon to all those hard-working teachers, who had ever felt that their work was never recognized or acknowledged. Like at any other place, in schools too, there has been a culture of politics which often promotes the people who don’t teach. I feel that CCTV cameras would significantly reduce this culture of dirty politics as the evidence of as to who is teaching and who is not, will be available publically. So, for all those teachers who felt disheartened with this politics in the school that their work doesn’t get recognised, it is time to celebrate.
I am not aware of any study available that proves that children grown and nurtured under the CCTV surveillance have ever developed some behavioural problems. There are schools which have used this technology for over several decades. There are no compelling pieces of evidence of its harmful side effects. In my view, CCTV cameras would effectively control the problem of bullying inside the classroom. It would definitely help the administrators and teachers build and establish a violence-free classroom. And such a classroom is the right of every child. Our ‘Right To Education’ also talks about it. After an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of installation of CCTV cameras in Delhi Govt schools, I strongly see that there are more merits than the demerits.
Installation of CCTV cameras would lead to a chain of innovations. The classroom research has always faced the challenge of authentic research. Data collected, by the researcher in the classroom, is not free from biases and the presence of the researcher in the classroom also influences the classroom process. The CCTV enabled data may solve this problem and it might foster the series of innovation.
We have to pay a price for a better tomorrow. Don’t we? To develop a better public education system, which would bring about a positive change in the life of the millions, we teachers won’t mind paying a price. After all, it is going to benefit our own people. If we could help survive the government schools, thousands of people would get jobs and millions would get a quality education and that too absolutely free. Imagine a time when there would be no Government schools. Who would listen to our arguments either in favour or against the installation of CCTV camera. So, the installation of CCTV camera in the government school should not be seen in isolation, it is the part of a major policy shift which tries to bring back the confidence of the people in the government school system. We all know that only a powerful public education system could actually contribute, in establishing a more equitable society which is one of our major constitutional principles.