Kalyani University Teachers Protest Biometric Attendance System

Kalyani University Teachers of Kalyani University demonstrating in front of vice-chancellor's officeKalyani University Teachers of Kalyani University demonstrating in front of vice-chancellor's office

Kalyani, Sept. 5: Unhappy with the proposed implementation of the biometric attendance system, a section of teachers of Kalyani University demonstrated in front of the vice chancellor’s office in Kalyani on Thursday. The agitating teachers have alleged that the vice-chancellor professor Sankar Kumar Ghosh has been arbitrarily trying to introduce the biometric attendance system in spite of no state government order in this connection. 

The teachers led by the University’s Teachers’ Council with placards in their hand demonstrated for two hours from 2 pm in absence of the vice-chancellor. The agitating teachers would also organize a protest rally on the campus on Friday on the issue.

VC Sankar Kumar Ghosh inaugurating biometric system at Education Department in August

VC Sankar Kr Ghosh inaugurating biometric system at the Education Department in August

Ironically 710 employees and contractual staff out of 728 of the University which includes the teachers have already registered their biometric data enrolling their names for the new attendance systems. The new system for all the departments would be installed shortly, an officer of the university administration said.

The contradiction in the role of the teachers, however, became evident when a large section of the teachers, which include members of the Teachers’ Council escaped the agitation. Only around 90 teachers were seen joined the agitation on the day.

Tapas Banerjee, General Secretary of the newly elected body of the Teachers’ Council said, “We are not against the biometric attendance system, rather against its implementation without any specific order of the state government. We categorically urged the vice-chancellor to introduce the new attendance system once the state government issues specific order for all universities in this regard”.

The teacher to continue their agitation would organize a series of rallies in all the faculties separately from Friday as well as organize a protest meeting in front of vice chancellor’s office on September 11. “If the VC does not roll back his decision or waits for specific government order for implementation of biometric attendance system, we may submit resignations from various internal academic committees of the Universities”, an agitating teacher said. 

However, sources in the state government said that no such order is required to implement a biometric attendance system as proposed by the University authority. 

“Several departments like the health department and industry department have a biometric attendance system for the past few years. They did not require a specific order from Nabanna. Moreover, the universities are autonomous and they can introduce a system to regularise attendance of the employees unilaterally,” said a senior government official.

On August  Kalyani University authorities launched the biometric attendance system for the teachers, researchers, non-teaching staff and students in two of its departments – Department of Education and Department of Physical Education. 

Earlier in last year in the 7th meeting of the West Bengal State Council of Higher Education that held in Calcutta a resolution for installing biometric attendance system in universities were adopted in presence of all the vice-chancellors in the state.

After the resolution of the higher education council, the Executive Council of the University had given its concurrence for the introduction of the biometric system. Accordingly, Kalyani University issued notification for the enrolment of biometric data.

“The implementation of the new attendance system was taken only after the EC gave its nod. It is not my arbitrary decision with prejudice against the teacher. Moreover, EC includes the state government’s representative, who also did not raise any objection. Meanwhile, we have already implemented the system in two departments after the National Council of Teachers’ Education in a letter issued in July had clearly instructed us to launch the biometric attendance system within one month in the education and physical education department.  But none has raised any protest. It is not clear to me why some teachers have been making a hue and cry on the issue if they are so sincere about their duties and responsibilities”.

Most of the students have meanwhile welcomed the decision of introduction of the biometric system.”This attendance system will in real term benefit the students largely. A major section of the teachers often come late or leave early for which students suffer. The biometric system will stop this bad habit”, a student of Arts faculty said.

University insiders said teachers mostly attached arts faculty are mostly accused of indiscipline in their attendance. Professor Tapas Banerjee, general secretary of the Tacher’s council said, “The vice-chancellor can take action against the teachers if he finds anyone errant about attendance”.

During the early parts of 2000, a series of agitations by the employees was organized when the system was introduced in the health department. The system cannot also be implemented in Nabanna itself as a large section of employees have reservations about the system citing poor communication system often prevents them from reaching the new state secretariat on time. A senior officer at Nabanna said, “A biometric attendance system cannot be manipulated and that’s why a section of employees never like the system to be introduced. The University teachers are no exception”.