The Telangana government has directed colleges and institutions affiliated with Osmania University to equip itself with CCTV cameras and also to introduce biometric attendance system (BAS) for students and the staff.
The Osmania University registrar had on April 9 issued this directive to all institutions affiliated to it. The registrar warned of that colleges that did not abide by the order would be denied affiliation for the academic year 2018-19.
It is unclear whether the university intends to install CCTV cameras inside classrooms to monitor students and teachers. Many have, however, criticised the governmentâ€™s move calling it nothing but an attack on student freedom and privacy.
Arunank, a student leader of Democratic Studentsâ€™ Union from Osmania University said, â€śThe idea of equipping CCTVs and introducing biometric attendance should be dropped. This surveillance will psychologically affect the students. How can a student properly study with a free mind, when s/he knows that someone is watching over? It is a terrible idea.â€ť
Suman Damera, political science student from University of Hyderabad said, â€śIt is a ridiculous idea to install BAS and CCTVs. Isnâ€™t the present system working efficiently? What is the need for all this?â€ť
Calling it an attempt to curtail the freedom of students, Suman added, â€śI canâ€™t help but suspect that it is the governmentâ€™s ulterior motive to curtail the freedom of students. This constant surveillance in an educational institution will only the turn the place hostile. Forget exchange of ideas, there wouldnâ€™t even be an interaction amongst students as the surveillance will condition them to behave in a certain way. We are certainly heading towards a dystopic future.â€ť
Speaking to TNM, Telangana Jana Samithi chief and chairman of Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) Prof Kodandram Reddy explained that he doesnâ€™t reject the governmentâ€™s idea outright, noting, â€śIf the government is installing technology to ensure better attendance of students, I would urge them to have the same approach and impart education with modern teaching methodsâ€”Powerpoint presentations, audio-visual clippings etc.â€ť
The academician-turned-politician is of the opinion that there should be an overhaul in the education system. â€śWhy should there be some sort of coercion to draw students into classes? It means that the teachers have failed at engaging with the students. The system should enable the students to voluntary take part in class with active participation. Students shouldnâ€™t come to class just because they have to. They should come to learn. That sort of approach I would advocate,â€ť he argued.
State universities like Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University of Hyderabad and Kakinada had earlier introduced Aadhaar-based biometric attendance systems on campus.
The university issued a circular instructing its affiliated collegesâ€”pharma and engineering colleges to introduce them immediately in December last year. However, many havenâ€™t, and at least 200 colleges are staring at the possibility of their recognition being stripped off by the university, as per a report by Times of India.
Institutions have cried foul over the arbitrary decision to immediately equip the colleges with CCTVs and biometric devices, which are expensive.