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Fingerprint system to check attendance

Technology will help the HRD Ministry plug leaks in the world’s two biggest school education programmes — the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2009 23:05 IST

Technology will help the HRD Ministry plug leaks in the world’s two biggest school education programmes — the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

A bio-metric (fingerprint recording) system will be used to mark the attendance of students and teachers while a Global Positioning System (GPS) will track foodgrains for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Minister of State for HRD D Purandeshwari told HT.

A ministry survey in 2005 had reported 30 per cent student absenteeism. Two years later, a United Nation survey found 20 teachers remained absent from duty on any given day.

But state governments seldom report this absenteeism while claiming funds from the Centre. High enrolment figures help states claim more foodgrains as quota for each child is earmarked under the meal scheme and also for infrastructure under the SSA, a government official said.

With the bio-metric and GPS systems, the ministry will have a tool to check the claims of state governments.

“HRD Minister Kapil Sibal wants to use these technologies to improve the education delivery system,” Purandeshwari said.

Such technological interventions have helped improve attendance of both teachers and students. The Rajasthan government had in 2008 introduced the bio-metric attendance system for teachers and students in primary schools. It resulted in a fall of teacher and student absenteeism by over 60-70 per cent.

In June 2009, the Gujarat government adopted the system for its municipal primary schools and decided to upload everyday attendance figures on the state government’s education department website.

Taking a clue from these success stories, the ministry is keen to include the bio-metric system in the SSA guidelines to mark the attendance of teachers and students.

“Though an Internet-based network is being set up under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Mission connecting all schools, the data on teacher and student attendance will be monitored at a central level,” a senior ministry official, who was not willing to be quoted, said.

Similarly, use of GPS will check pilferage of foodgrains. “There have been reports of rice meant for children reaching the black market,” Purandeshwari said.

In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, food meant for schoolchildren was found in private stores.