Luwero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Government schools in Luwero district have recieved smartphones from the Ministry of Education and Sports to track the daily attendance of teachers and learners. The Education Ministry delivered smartphones to 230 Universal Primary schools, 23 government-aided secondary schools, and two technical schools in the district Tuesday.
The Ministry through the Teacher Effectiveness and Learner Achievement (TELA) performance monitoring system also provided six tablets to Luwero District Education Office to access data and track timetable implementation from schools.
Yusuf Kamulegeya, the Luwero District Inspector of Schools explained that the smartphones have been updated with information about each teacher at a school who will be required to use them to clock in using their face, fingerprint, or pin.
According to Kamulegeya, the teachers will also fill in the subjects they are going to teach before proceeding to class. Kamulegeya says that the teachers through the learner enrollment option will capture the daily attendance of pupils among other particulars. He says that the teacher will also be required to clock out in the evening after the day.
The monitoring tool has attracted mixed reactions from both local leaders and headteachers on its effectiveness to fight absenteeism.
Erastus Kibirango, the Luwero District LC V Chairperson, said the innovation is timely because the Inspectors were financially constrained to visit schools to track attendance.
Kibirango explained the process of deleting teachers who abscond from duty will be quicker since the information can readily be generated at district headquarters.
But the headteachers say smartphones may not eliminate absenteeism and help improve teachers’ efficiency in class if the issues that affect them are not addressed.
Badru Apuuli Kyamulesire, the headteacher of Nalongo Islamic Primary School, said that he was hopeful that the system will compel the teachers to arrive at school at 7:30 am and leave at 4 pm as required because the smartphones save time.
Irene Ssenkima the Headteacher of Masonkwe Primary School in Zirobwe sub-county, says that there are eight teachers at her school but no one sleeps within the premises due to the lack of staff houses. Ssenkima explains that teachers travel around 6-8 kilometers per day, which contributes to late coming and absenteeism.
Agnes Kulabako, the headteacher of St Jude Kyegombwa Primary School says that in the current rainy season, there is no way teachers traveling distances will turn up at school early to teach as required and this will affect learners across the term.
Kulabako says that without addressing teachers’ welfare, the tool may not stop them from absenteeism. The Teacher Effectiveness and Learner Achievement (TELA) performance monitoring system was jointly developed by Planet Systems (U) Limited, the Directorate of Education Standards, and the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Recently, forty-one teachers in Luwero were summoned by District Service Commission to defend themselves for abscondment from duty. The accused staff appeared before the District Rewards and Sanctions Committee, which recommended that they are forwarded to District Service Commission to take steps to discipline them over abscondment from duty.
In 2021, Luwero district installed clock-in timers across the government health centers but absenteeism has persisted to date. According to sections (A-N )19 and 20, the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders the responsible Officer shall stop the salary immediately and submit to the Appointing Authority for a formal directive of his or her removal from public service on the abandonment of duty.