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Dear Delhi government, CCTV cameras inside classrooms are a bad idea

In a recent article for The Indian Express, Akshay Marathe, a member of Delhi government’s Dialogue and Development Commission task force on school education, defended the government’s project to install CCTV cameras inside all classrooms in state schools. Marathe, echoing the Delhi government, gave two aims of the project: crime deterrence, and disciplining students. His defence is, kindly put, problematic. A response: 1. Education's aim isn't just disciplinary: While a school is meant to teach discipline, it is also the space where students can make mistakes and subsequently learn from them. Creating panopticons inside schools instills fear, not values. 2. Classrooms aren't public spaces either: Marathe is right that “classrooms cannot be classified as private”. However, schools are not as public as a footpath: the expectation of relative privacy is what allows students the freedom to express themselves, make mistakes, and inculcate creativity and imagination. Contrary to what Marathe believes, this view does not “reflect a deep disconnect … [with] the reality of the country’s government schools”. The Delhi government cannot assume that constant surveillance of every activity will improve the learning environment. 3. Where is the Government's accountability? Marathe says "Like any arm of the government, these schools will decay if not made accountable to the people." Where is the government's own accountability? Why isn’t there any regulation, or law to govern CCTVs in schools, or even in the city of Delhi? They haven't been transparent about the consultation process either. Details from the alleged meetings between Delhi’s education…

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