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Asia Pacific / News / Education

Asian schools automate attendance tracking

Gone are days when classes start with roll-calls. FutureGov reveals how schools in Hong Kong, Japan, India and Singapore have taken the load off teachers by deploying biometric or smart card technology to track students’ entering and leaving the campus.

25/01/2010

Serving Fung Kai Innovative School’s 700 students every morning are 20 kiosks. As students arrive, they stand in front of the camera to have their face scanned and key in their password. Based on facial recognition technology, the scanned image is matched to the schools’ database. At the beginning of the day, teachers can access a real-time attendance record either at a kiosk or via their lap top.

Implemented three years ago, the automated attendance kiosks save a good amount of time for teachers, Ma Siu Leung, Chief Executive Officer, Fung Kai Public School told FutureGov. “The students also enjoyed using the system because they find it fun.”

Approximately 20 schools in Singapore have installed fingerprint readers linked to an electronic attendance system. According to Principal Maureen Lee, automating attendance marking has saved as much as 90 per cent of the time taken at Kranji Secondary, which has 1500 pupils.

Moreover, systems can automatically alert parents via sms or email if their kids do not turn up at school or arrive late. “It is easier now, as we do not have to take the trouble of checking the telephone register to inform parents when students are late or absent. Previously, we had to call parents by the first period or before recess,” said Karen Wong, a teacher in Kranji Secondary.

Instead of biometrics, almost half of the urban schools in India are using smart card technology. “Pupils scan their student ID card against readers installed at school gates. The information is updated in real-time on to the intranet,” said Tripti Kharbanda, Business Development Manager, EduSwift, a provider of school management system headquartered in India. “Each parent is given an intranet user ID and password to access attendance records.”

While the costs of such electronic attendance systems have dropped, smaller schools still find it difficult to justify such an investment. Serving 50 students, the International Secondary School in Tokyo Japan uses an online system which teachers log on to update students’ attendance daily. The information is also accessible to parents in real-time.

“The current online system allows only one user to update the record. It would be better if it supports multiple users so that administrative staff can assist teachers to mark attendance,” Principal Royce Jacobs added. “Technology has successfully enhanced teaching and learning within our classrooms. But a biometric e-attendance solution would not make financial sense for our school at the moment.”

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