Makerere Staff Oppose Biometric Attendance System

Kampala, Uganda | THE BLACK EXAMINER | Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) opposes the proposed implementation of a biometric staff attendance management system within the university.

This development follows a communication from the University Secretary, Yusuf Kiranda, in an October 12th letter to all staff members and the University Council. The letter informed them of the government’s decision to introduce the Integrated Human Capital Management System (HCM) to automate Human Resource Management functions in the Public Service.

During a special meeting on March 9, 2023, the University Council decided to procure and implement a biometric staff management system to ensure staff compliance with time and attendance requirements. This biometric system will be integrated with the HCM attendance module.

“In its 161st meeting on September 21, 2023, the University Council clarified that the biometric attendance management system would involve a physical clock-in system across the University. Each staff member will be required to clock in at their respective duty stations,” part of the letter reads.

Nonetheless, Dr. Robert Kakuru, the Chairman of MUASA, expressed his opposition to this development, highlighting that some of the academic staff’s responsibilities, such as teaching and research, are transitioning to digital platforms.

“We are primarily employed to teach, conduct research, and engage in community service. Some of these functions are being digitalized, like online teaching. Biometrics may necessitate that we abandon online teaching because many staff share offices, which can be inconvenient for online teaching in these shared spaces. Additionally, some donors, such as the MasterCard Foundation, have invested substantial funds to support online teaching,” he stated.

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Dr. Kakuru pointed out that academic staff often work beyond the traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule imposed by the biometric system.

“At times, we dedicate entire nights to reading and evaluating dissertations, meeting grant deadlines, and producing articles and books. So, should we also clock in at midnight when we are working? This could significantly demotivate our staff,” he argued.

The rigid sign-in and sign-out requirements may demotivate staff and fail to acknowledge the flexible and demanding nature of their work. Kakuru also raised concerns about the university’s inadequate compensation for staff working overtime.

“It is possible that the University Council and University Management do not fully comprehend the roles and responsibilities of staff within the university. Furthermore, the university provides inadequate compensation for staff working beyond their regular hours,” Kakuru added.

In response to these concerns, Kiranda clarified that staff members with official clearance to be away from their duty stations would not be required to clock in on the days they have permission to be absent.

“Authorizations for staff to be away from their duty stations will be in accordance with approved University policies and procedures. To this end, respective supervisors will be responsible for clearing staff who have been authorized to be absent in the attendance management system,” the letter specifies.

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