Two years after the University Grants Commission (UGC) directed educational institutes to shift from the pen and paper era of tracking attendance, several colleges in the city are implementing other means to “keep an eye” on students’ movement in a fail-safe manner.
The traditional method of vocal roll-call leaves much room for error and hence institutes have turned to technology to keep track of truants. National Kannada Education Society, Wadala, has opted for Radio Frequency Identity Cards (RFID). Principal Saroja Rao said, “The biometric system proved to be time-consuming, so we opted for the RFID. It is convenient and helps keep track of large masses of students.”
In the RFID system, students are issued identity cards with electronic chips that register their entry and exit when they walk through the school gate. If the system does not register the entry of a student, a message is sent to the respective parent about the student’s absence.
SIES College, Matunga, has implemented the RFID cards system for select degree courses after experimenting with the biometric system for a year. “We still have a few bugs to work around. Factors like students jumping courses, timetables being shifted and the absence of teaching staff need to be taken into account. We look for the full implementation of the biometric system in every class within two years,” said principal Harsha Mehta.
The junior college of Andhra Education Society (AES), Wadala, has a combination of biometrics and RFID detectors in classrooms to monitor students’ attendance. While students have to produce an RFID card at the college entrance, attendance to class is registered through a pupil biometric detector. “If a student walks into college but doesn’t attend class, an alert is sent to the parents,” said Narendra Varun, administrator of AES. “The intention is to make the students attend classes regularly,” he said.
The biometric system, suggested in the UGC guidelines, is being embraced by many, including St Xavier’s College, Dhobi Talao. After a probationary testing period last year, the college is all set to implement the system.
On the new attendance systems, Akshit Dhar, a third-year student at St Xavier’s College, said, “The electronic approach in the form of biometrics seems like a fool-proof way to keep track of attendance and is a step in the right direction.”
Nicolette Lawrence, a third-year student at St Xavier’s, said the systems are “too delicate”. “Biometric and other electronic attendance systems are a good way to combat proxy attendance but might end up being delicate systems that eat up lecture time. There are margins of error that will have to be overcome,” she said.