Biometric in KPK
Few months ago biometric attendance system had been installed in 24 government colleges of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s province to ensure the attendance of teachers. Because in the past, teachers used to skip classes by making false entries in the attendance register.
Dysfunctionality of Biometric System
The provincial government had given top priority and allocated massive amount in the budget for education sector, and it had brought reforms from Primary to University level in consultation with the scholars and education experts. But unfortunately, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Biometric Attendance System (BAS) has become dysfunctional in various departments since Sept last year due to the nonpayment of dues to a cellular phone company, Ufone.
The information gathered from different departments and institutions suggested that the services of BAS system have been jammed in educational institutions, Civil Secretariat, hospitals and many other places by Ufone, because the provincial government was unable to pay dues. BAS is a multi-million project by KPK Government which was initiated to reduce absenteeism in major departments of the province. A source told Dawn that government has allocated Rs. 81 million for installing BAS in major departments, hospitals, institutes and relevant directorates across the province in different phases.
Cellular Company Was Not Paid Dues by Government
An official said that the relevant departments were advised by the Directorate to clear their dues before their Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) expire. Underneath the project, the directorate will create software, install hardware and give subscriber identity modules (SIMs) in main departments, their secondary directorates, and educational institutions. The relevant departments were provided biometric devices by Directorate. In the information technology directorate, an official ensured that the cellular company would have deferred service and therefore, BAS didn’t work. He told that the directorate had humiliated the departments concerned already to clear dues before the expiry of SIMs. The Directorate said,
“The cellular company may have blocked the system due to nonpayment of dues,”
It was told by the official that, under the agreement, the company would charge Rs270 for one gigabyte (GB). Moreover, he said the secretariat was intimated that the company might block SIMs after Nov 2016 due to nonpayment of dues. The official added that correspondingly, other departments and directorates were well-versed about the blockade of SIMs over non-payment of dues.
“Our job was to install the system and pay charges in advance to the company for a specific time. After one year, the department concerned is responsible for the regular payment of dues for the service,” he said.
BAS was a major step of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led alliance government to counter absenteeism in government departments, specifically schools and hospitals, to improve performance. Its purpose was to make sure the real-time monitoring of attendance via online dashboard, identification of ghost employees and ensuring of the productivity of offices.
Nonappearance is a major issue in public sector organizations, specifically in schools, hospitals and other service delivery institutes. At first, the government employees especially those working in health and education departments sturdily opposed BAS. The employee’s finger is scanned through the system to make sure his/her presence in the office. According to the officials, BAS has been mounted in all departments in the secretariat and attached directorates. Along with Khyber Girls Medical College and Institute of Kidney Diseases Peshawar, the facility has been installed at Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar, Ayub Teaching Hospital in Abbottabad and Mardan Medical Complex in Mardan. In education area, BAS has been installed in 270 postgraduates, degree and colleges of commerce and vocational institutions. In addition, BAS facilities were also present in 36 schools of Peshawar. Officials said BAS will be available in 400 schools in different districts by the end of March.
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