Time up for Captial's schools to install CCTV cameras
The deadline for private schools in the Capital to install CCTV cameras on school campuses has been reached and inspections have begun.
According to the regulation, visual surveillance equipment must be installed to cover all school buildings, facilities and premises classified as sensitive or critical locations.
The deadline for private schools in the Capital to install CCTV cameras on school campuses has been reached and inspections have begun. However, not all schools have complied.
The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) had given schools here till end of August last year to install CCTV cameras at specific locations in their school premises in an effort to ensure student safety as per the Private Schools and Quality Assurance (PSQA) regulation. Adec teams began inspecting schools since Monday.
The new PSQA regulations came into effect in February 2013 and covers student protection, among others.
According to the regulation, visual surveillance equipment must be installed to cover all school buildings, facilities and premises classified as sensitive or critical locations. These include all common areas such as hallways, staircases, cafeterias including entry/exits, food delivery and storage areas, science and computer labs, all entrances to school buildings, auditorium/play areas/sports hall/swimming pool/exam halls, entrances to bathrooms and changing rooms, inside and outside school buses and any other areas where school equipment, and valuable, confidential or dangerous materials are stored.
Surveillance however is not permitted inside classrooms, locker rooms, washrooms, play areas for female students, or any other area where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. For the school audit, Adec has contracted a third party specialist to inspect all private schools and check alignment with the CCTV requirements.
“During school visits, a big part of the inspection process will focus on whether schools have abided by the specified CCTV location details and surveillance requirements,” said Hamad Al Dhaheri, Adec’s PSQA executive director.
“Installing the proper CCTV cameras in private schools comes in line with Adec’s mission to help safeguard students, teachers and the school community as a whole. It is vital that schools comply with all the standards related to maintaining and monitoring the device, which will in turn greatly reduce the number of accidents/unfortunate incidents that accrue across some schools,” he added.
But not all schools are ready. Lizabeth Comia, principal of the Twenty-First Century Academy, which utilises the old government school, said that so far only the main gate has CCTV camera in her school.
“When we changed to electronic gate, the camera was part of it. Installation of the other cameras is still ongoing. We plan to put two to three more cameras to cover the corridors, passageways and the back of the school. We hope to finalise this by the end of this month,” she said.
For the Indian Modern Science School, which will be moving to its new school building in Muroor by April, the security system has yet to be designed.
“We are a villa school with 600 students. It may take a little bit of time for us to (focus on our security system) as first we have to figure out how to fill the 2,000 students capacity,” principal S. Ganapathi.said. According to Adec, private schools that did not meet the CCTV camera inspection audit will be referred to the Adec Compliance Committee “which will issue a statement for further action with the school.” However, one of the largest schools in the Capital said they were ready for inspection and had all requirements in place two years ago.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, the principal said installing CCTV cameras was a “necessary step for the security of the school and the students,” and in the past had been used as evidence in investigating incidents, with the support of parents.
The school has 37 cameras installed throughout its premises, 15 of which are in the senior boys’ sections. “It is my understanding that once cameras are already installed inside the classrooms, we don’t need to remove them ... (and) these are not used to monitor teacher performance but in investigation of incidents should there be a requirement,” he explained.