“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”–Nelson Mandela.
The recent unfortunate incidents of sexual defilement at two separate girls’ secondary schools in Nairobi and Narok have brought into sharp focus the status of security in our learning institutions. Of particular concern has been the security systems at boarding schools, which have proven to be susceptible to both internal and external threat in the past.
It’s evident that more needs to be done to secure our learning facilities. This far, the Ministry of Education has stepped in and issued guidelines meant to enhance safety of students while in school, while the topic dominated conversation at the recently held headteachers’ conference in Mombasa.
As per our Senior Operations Manager, Mr. John Ogutu, it’s time for school management to invest in their security.
“Many schools are guilty of stagnating as far as reviewing their security protocols and adopting technological measures goes.”
The use of CCTV surveillance, for instance, is a measure that has been highly touted over the years. A few institutions have invested in surveillance equipment already and are now reaping the benefits of their investment, including enhanced security and improved academic performance.
At the moment, most schools will point towards an iron gate and a couple of private security officers as the only security measures they have in place. However, the calibre of the officers manning these sites has also been brought into question. In Homa Bay for instance, the County Commissioner directed school heads to vet their security personnel afresh and only hire officers from registered and reputable firms.
“Here, your safest bet would be to go with a private security firm that subscribes to professional standards such as ISO 9001:2015 and is a member of an accredited body such as the Kenya Security Industry Association. This would assure you of getting officers who are well trained, remunerated, equipped and supervised.”
Biometric Access Control:
The use of access control systems would also go a long way in limiting access to only those authorized to be in certain areas of the school.
“Access control systems ensure you have direct control over who goes where. This means that areas like student dormitories remain sanctuaries only accessible to students and selected teachers for instance. There would be little chance of girls running into intruders in the washrooms for instance.”
Any institution is only as secure as its perimeter. One of the security lapses that have cropped up recently is the lack of a secure perimeter in most learning institutions, something which leaves the learners exposed to external threat.
“Having a secure perimeter wall or fence, possibly electric, manned entry and exit points and regular patrols or surveillance protocols would also go a long way in keeping unwanted intruders out… and sneaky students in of course,” Mr. Ogutu quipped.
Intruder Alarm & Emergency Response Service
Security systems are anchored on early detection and swift response to intrusion. An intruder alarm system is vital to any institution, more so a school.
“Security systems are designed to first deter, deny and delay intrusion. Should anyone get past this, then early detection is crucial. Having an alarm linked to a siren, strobe lights and a GSM transmitter would be ideal to send a distress signal to the relevant authorities as well as an SMS alert to the headteacher’s phone.”
Beyond this, students could also be given personal alarms which they can quickly set off by pulling a cord. The learners should also be taken through emergency preparedness drills to ensure they are ready for any eventuality, should the need arise.