In 2013, Byimana School of Sciences experienced three cases of fire outbreaks in a space of just one month and a half.
This was a rude awakening for policymakers and school administrators on the importance of safety in schools.
The following year, the school administration moved to install four Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras as part of the measures to prevent other similar incidents and guarantee the safety of their students.
Talking to The New Times recently, Brother Crescent Karerangabo, the school’s head teacher, explained the advantages of installing cameras after the fire incidents.
“We placed cameras at the entrance gate, fence, computer lab and walls. We did that to control any movement in and out of our school and prevent any kind of crime.
The main purpose was to increase the security of our school. It is helpful, we are no longer experiencing petty crimes like theft that used to occur,” he explained.
The school plans to install more cameras. One of the areas in which they plan to install the camera is the school hall where students usually gather for entertainment and other school functions.
“The cameras will help us watch and control our students when they are together for entertainments. Monitoring more than 2,000 students is difficult, but cameras might ease the task,” he said.
The case of Byimana School of Sciences is one of many other crimes and misbehaviour that happens in schools and cause disturbances to learners, educators, and non-educators.
There is theft (mainly of computers), bad behaviour among students such as escaping from school, cheating, but above all, harassment or child abuse by teachers, among others.
Karerangabo added that CCTV cameras can play a critical role in preventing crimes like child defilement and harassment, mostly committed by teachers.
“It is believed that some of those behaviours begin at school, after classes. With cameras, these types of crimes can be prevented and significantly decreased. Obviously, when criminals think there is a possibility of being caught, they’re less likely to commit a crime,” he added.
He suggested that schools should have cameras even for monitoring their learners and educators though for them it is not the case.
“Though we do not need to put cameras in classrooms for our system is strong enough to monitor and control both teachers and students without using cameras. But we suggest to schools without that strong system to use cameras as it might increase the performance for both teachers and students,” he suggested.
“Teachers will also be monitored how they evaluate students, how they deliver lessons. Knowing that they are being watched, they can redouble their efforts in teaching,” he reiterated.
Karerangabo concluded by saying that CCTVs are helpful in investigations and it is possible to be installed in schools.
“When there are cameras you can check and see videos, you can know who took something, who did something wrong, so, you do not have many things to deal with when investigating. That video can be used as a piece of evidence and can provide much information,” he said.
“The installation of cameras is somehow expensive, but compared to their importance, they are worth it and can prevent many losses,” he concluded.
Charles Mutazihara, the head teachers of Kigali Parents School, explained the use of cameras and their cost.
He said that one camera and its installation cost more than Rwf150,000.
“Last year we installed 11 cameras to increase security and watch our students’ behaviour. We have placed them where we can control public movement. We would like to have more cameras to install in classrooms and toilets but they are somehow expensive,” he said.
“CCTV cameras are very important; our school no longer has cases of theft that we used to experience before we installed them. In fact, every school needs to have cameras to decrease cases of insecurity like theft, child abuse, harassment, and students’ misbehaviour. However, I am not sure that all schools can afford them unless the price is reduced or schools get other support,” he explained.
Leo Mugabe, the Coordinator of Rwanda Education for All, said that the security is not only based on materials but also on students’ safety.
As there are many cases where children are kidnapped though it is not common in Rwanda, it is better to prevent.
“We heard some cases of kidnapped students in many countries, in Rwanda those cases are not common, but we have to prevent and search for solutions just in case they happened,” he said.
He added that besides using cameras, schools should engage a professional security companies to secure their property.
“There should be other measures to secure schools. We have heard cases of schools of lost computers, mainly because their guards are not professional. Schools should have professional security companies to secure them,” he added.
“I do not think that those preventive measures are affordable by all schools. Cameras are expensive and security companies as well. The Ministry of Education, Rwanda Education Board or even districts can help schools,” he suggested.