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Is it Time for CCTV in our Schools?

  • Posted by: Lloyd Gitonga

“The cameras have been a blessing to us. The boys are relaxed and comfortable that the school is well-secured, which has allowed them to concentrate on classwork.”Musyoka Moshe, Nyangwa High School Principal.

In 2014, Limuru Model Primary School in Kiambu County made headlines as they became the first public primary school in the county to install CCTV surveillance cameras across their school compound. Since then, the uptake of adequate security measures in schools has been rather slow across the country.

In recent years, we’ve seen significant resources being poured into our education system, with the government allocating billions of shillings to funding the Digital Literacy Programme. The scheme, once just a dream, has already been rolled out through pilot projects in select schools countrywide.

However, in recent weeks, we have noted a spike in criminal incidents targeting these schools. In Kwale County, for instance, a school was robbed of 95 digital literacy tablets on 7th May. Another primary school in Trans Nzoia County was also robbed of 22 tablets four days earlier, with thugs overpowering and tying up private security guards manning the school before making away with the devices.

Last year, in the height of a wave of alleged arson attacks that saw over 100 schools record fire incidents and thousands of students sent home, Dagoretti South MP Dennis Waweru called for the installation of CCTV in public schools to deter crime.

“This will be a visual deterrent to many criminal activities, not only arson,” Hon. Waweru said at the time.

With this in mind, we thought we’d look deeper into the issue of school security. We did a little digging and found three case studies where schools have invested in CCTV and reaped rewards as a result.

  1. Limuru Model Primary School (Kiambu County)

The school will go down as the first public primary school in the country’s history to install CCTV surveillance cameras in its premises three years ago. The school’s Board of Governors made the decision to invest in adequate security measures following a wave of crime targeting schools in the area, which resulted in six security guards being killed. The school also has invested in alarm systems to enhance early detection of intruders. According to former school Principal John Ngugi, the additional security measures have increased security while enhancing discipline and performance.

Limuru Model Primary School Headteacher John Ngugi displays some of the CCTV cameras in the school. (PIC: Courtesy)

“It has also added value to the school because the demand is now very high, such that we cannot take any more students in the school. We currently have 1,650 students,” he told the press in 2014.

  1. Nyangwa High School (Embu County)

A secondary school in Embu County quickly followed the Limuru school’s lead, installing CCTV surveillance and acquiring five German Shepherd guard dogs to enhance their security. The school’s security guards were also trained by National Police to enhance their ability to detect and avert student unrest in good time.

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According to school Principal Musyoka Moshe, the surveillance equipment has also enabled them to monitor the movement of their 1,800 students and visitors within the school.

“The cameras have been a blessing to us. The boys are relaxed and comfortable that the school is well-secured and are able to concentrate on classwork. Our performance has improved from a mean of 6.2 points to 9.5 points in the last five years,” Moshe explained.

Nyangwa High School students and teachers lift Principal Moshe Musyoka in the air as they celebrate the school’s performance in the K.C.S.E 2016 examinations. (PIC: Courtesy)

  1. Karima Boys High School (Othaya)

The most recent of our case studies takes us to Othaya where a school has embraced technology integration by installing CCTV and biometric access control systems within their premises. The school made the decision to acquire the systems after a period of student unrest in mid-2016.

According to school Principal Herman Wanjau, the CCTV system has instilled discipline in the boys, enhanced early detection of intruders, and also provided vital evidence in case a student breaks the rules. With two monitors, the school has adopted a multi-level approach to watching over students; first with active monitoring done by two teachers on duty in the staff room and after hours by the principal himself.

And for that extra peace of mind that all parents crave, the school has adopted a biometric registration and access control system, which keeps parents in the know of at all times. How? Well, before a student withdraws pocket money they have to sign off using their thumbprint, at which point their parent/guardian will receive an SMS notification indicating the amount of money withdrawn. Beyond this, every student is required to sign off at the gate when leaving the school, again at which point the parents will be alerted.

At this point, the benefits accrued by adequately investing in securing our schools is not only enticing but truly cannot be ignored. Adding his two cents to the conversation, our very own Nitin Wadhwa, who’s in charge of our Technical Department, noted that policy makers ought to give more credence to ensuring our schools are safe havens for our young ones to learn and play.

“Of course, with nearly 40,000 schools overall in Kenya today, implementing such policies won’t be without its challenges. However, the rolling out of significant technological advancements in education, such as the digital literacy tablets, calls for proportionate investment in securing these resources, and in effect, our children’s futures as well,” Nitin concluded.

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