Parents have been understandably nervous after last year’s alarming spate of schoolyard assaults so it’s small wonder that some schools are looking to capitalize. The China Daily reports that a kindergarten in Chongqing is pushing a pilot program that will allow parents to monitor their kids in the classroom via online surveillance video:
"Most of the parents are connected to the Internet and do not mind coughing up monthly fees of 10-20 yuan ($1.5-$3) for the monitoring service, according to the headmaster of the kindergarten. The school has so far invested nearly 20,000 yuan on camera systems for five classrooms. Using the technology, the parents can log on to the website of the kindergarten with an authorized username and password from home or the office and watch the progress of their children at school."
No word so far about any similar programs in Beijing, but some critics are already decrying the initiative as intrusive, if not opportunistic.
In many ways, the prospect of being able to check in on what your kid is up to in the classroom at any given time is pretty enticing, especially for parents of younger children who have only recently started school (I can certainly empathize).
As for questions of privacy and intrusiveness, it seems that the same rules for nanny cams should apply here. As long as all the parties are informed of and give consent to the use the cameras in the classroom, I see have no qualms with this approach — after all, China isn’t the first country where schools have installed surveillance cameras in classrooms.
And perhaps the bigger question is what this all says about the current competitive nature of China’s "international schools" and the things they’ll do to get your business.