S’pore preschools must install CCTV by Jul. 1, 2024, parents may request to view footage: ECDA

They said it has been planned since February 2023 and not because of recent events.

Ruth Chai | August 31, 2023, 08:31 PM

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Preschools will be required to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in key access points and areas children use, such as classrooms, activity rooms, play areas, and infant napping rooms, from Jul. 1, 2024.

The cameras will not be allowed in toilets, changing rooms and staff rest areas to ensure the privacy of staff and children, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said in a press release.

In addition, parents can be granted access to the CCTV footage, but only for providing an objective reference point to clarify feedback or to assist in investigating "serious incidents" within preschool premises.

ECDA also said that parents should view the recorded footage "only after the preschool has viewed it as part of its own investigation", provided that the incident is not under investigation by ECDA or any enforcement agency.

Mandate will take effect from Jul. 1 next year

The ECDA said they have informed preschools of plans to mandate the installation of CCTV cameras in all preschools and government-funded Early Intervention (EI) centres since February 2023.

More than 60 per cent of preschools and all EI centres have already installed CCTV cameras on their premises, said the agency.

The cameras enhance existing safety measures by deterring suspicious or unauthorised persons from entering childcare premises.

The footage will be "an objective and reliable source of evidence to support the investigation".

"The implementation of CCTV cameras will complement existing measures to provide a safe and secure environment in our preschools so parents and educators will have a greater peace of mind," the ECDA added.

The agency assured that they will work closely with operators to ensure that the CCTV system and cameras are installed properly and used appropriately to protect the privacy of children, staff and other individuals within preschool premises.

CCTV plan came up in February

Two separate incidents have brought to light the issue of child safety in preschools.

Multiple videos of a preschool teacher from Kinderland's Woodlands branch mistreating children circulated online on Aug. 28, 2023.

In the videos, the teacher was allegedly filmed pulling a crying boy's head and pinching a girl's cheek to force them to drink water.

A day after, videos of another Kinderland teacher's actions surfaced, this time purportedly from a branch in Choa Chu Kang, smacking a boy's head and pushing him away.

The videos sparked public outcry, with many calling for reinforcing preschool security measures to ensure child safety.

The ECDA clarified that recent events did not influence the mandatory implementation of CCTV cameras in preschools.

They said the move was planned last year as a part of their regular review of security and safety measures in the early childhood sector.

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Top photo via Unsplash/Pawel Czerwinski & Mothership/Julia Yee