Attendance row: JNU’s all-in-one smart card will mark presence too
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which is in the process of rolling out a biometric attendance system despite protest from students and teachers, will introduce a smart card for its students and staff to mark attendance.
“The biometric machines have been installed in almost all schools and will soon be operational,” said Chintamani Mahapatra, Rector-I, adding the system has been launched in the administrative building. “The card-based biometric attendance system will be provisioned for students, staff and faculty attendance. The all-in-one smart card will initially act as an ID card, biometric attendance, library card and health centre card.”
On whether the smart card will record the biometrics of the students and staff, Mahapatra said, “Only a technical person will know this.”
Mahapatra, during a media interaction on Monday, said the mandatory attendance policy was in accordance with University Grants Commission guidelines which mention that a teacher should be available on campus for at least five hours everyday.
“Students have come to us saying that teachers are not available in classrooms,” he said.
The statement comes three days after the JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) criticised the mandatory attendance system. The teachers’ body said a survey conducted by them showed that only one university among the 75 high-ranking universities across 21 countries follows the procedure of recording faculty attendance.
The JNUTA also accused the administration of coercing faculty members to accept the attendance system by denial of processing of papers including those related to leaves, medical coverage, fellowships and conferences.
Dean for School of Arts and Aesthetics (SAA) Kavita Singh said her leave application to go to Bengaluru to receive the Infosys Prize 2018 was rejected by the administration on January 2. Singh — who had been removed from her post last year for expressing inability to implement compulsory attendance norms — said she only learnt of the development once she reached Bengaluru.
On the issue of her application being rejected, university officials said the “issue will be sorted out”.
Singh, meanwhile, explained that the university administration should have sought the opinions of the various departments on UGC guidelines before adopting, modifying or rejecting them.
She added that these needed to be included in the agenda 10 days before the Academic Council meeting to leave enough room for discussion.
However, the decision to make the attendance mandatory for faculty members was taken without any consultation with the other departments, she claimed.
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