South African Department of Basic Education eyes massive biometric system

February 19, 2013 - 

The Department of Basic Education in South Africa has plans for a massive project that would see 24,000 schools equipped with biometric clocking devices.

The project is believed to be the biggest of its kind and is set to be active in 2015. According to a report in MoneyWeb, this system has been devised in an attempt to address teacher absenteeism.

Currently, across South Africa, manual sign-in systems still exist for teachers, which has left the system susceptible to abuse and fraud. Some teachers sign in on behalf of others, while some forget to sign in at all.

Department of Basic Education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said that if teachers are not at work for three days, the department can deduct money from salaries more effectively, as under the current system, this can take two months.

The department has yet to consult with teachers over the project, and the pilot project will only begin after consultations end.

Reported previously in, many biometric workforce management systems proposed to enforce teacher attendance have been strongly opposed.

Teachers in government schools in India’s Andhra Pradesh threatened to strike against a proposed biometric workforce management system. Also in India, faculty at Vinoba Bhave University have rejected similar plans and have vowed to oppose the new system. 

In the MoneyWeb report, South African Democratic Teachers’ Union media officer Nomusa Cembi said the department has not yet discussed the plan with the union, but the union views this implementation as a management tool.

According to Lesufi, the department has not issued tenders or finalized its finances for this new system, and says the overall budget is still not known, despite media reports suggesting the contrary.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj