Pilot Program Tracks Student Attendance Via ID Scanners

Thousands of students across the country are scanning identification cards and their thumbprints at school as part of a pilot program aimed at encouraging attendance.

The tracking system, which uses an electronic pad attached to a wall inside school grounds to collect student data at the start and end of classes, was developed by education development NGO Global Partnership for Education in consultation with the Education Ministry. The cost of the project was not disclosed.

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Students at Hun Sen Mittapheap High School in Sihanoukville line up to swipe their ID cards, in a photo posted to a school administrator’s Facebook account.

The project was rolled out late last year across 50 primary and secondary schools in seven provinces, including Phnom Penh, Preah Sihanouk, Prey Veng, Kompong Chhnang, Battambang, Siem Reap and Ratanakkiri, ministry spokesman Ros Salin said on Tuesday.

Each school has 200 students from the same grade participating in the pilot, Mr. Salin said.

“We can monitor absences, dropouts, class passing and transferring students,” he said.

Teng Vandy, principal of Hun Sen Mittapheap High School in Sihanoukville, said their machine—located on the wall outside his office—wasbeing used up to four times a day by 10th grade students, if they attended morning and afternoon classes.

“I wish they had them for teachers, too,” he said.

Tun Sarong, head of the Sihanoukville education office, said the data is sent to the school as well as the Education Ministry. “The important goal is to alert students that they must go to school by 7 a.m. and leave at 11 a.m.,” he said.

Information about teachers’ attendance should be evident based on when students scan out, he said. “It also allows us to do attendance checks on teachers, because if students leave early, the school would know that there is a teacher who is absent,” he said.

Ouk Chhayavy, acting president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, said the system was pointless without further measures to improve quality of education.

“Improving education not only requires restrictions on students, but also requires allowing teachers to have proper standards of living and getting rid of corruption in schools,” she said.

“All Education Ministry officials…work to serve the ruling party…. They don’t worry about how to provide actual education, and students lose confidence,” she said.

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