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Hope for fresh start

Guwahati/Silchar, Dec. 31: Biometric machines will be used to record the daily attendance of college teachers in Assam from tomorrow.

The teachers had earlier decried Dispur’s initiative of installing the devices at colleges to effectively monitor their attendance, alleging that the use of gadgets to keep an eye on their sincerity was an insult to the noble profession.

Assam College Teachers’ Association general secretary Biswajit Bhuyan told The Telegraph today that the special convention of the association, held at Raha College in Nagaon district on Saturday, resolved to respect the December 21 government notification asking colleges to install the machines.

The notification, issued by commissioner and secretary of higher education H.K. Sarma, had instructed principals to take measures to install the biometric machines by December 31 in accordance with the recommendations made by AMTRON.

Sarma had notified that college teachers would have to register their arrival and departure on biometric machines as well as the attendance register from January 1, 2013. The machines will remain operative from 8am to 5pm.

The government had also made it emphatically clear that the use of biometric machines was mandatory for all colleges in the state. The machines’ records would be treated as attendance sheets of teachers during their six-hour, 40-minute compulsory daily presence on every working day as stipulated by the University Grants Commission.

The move was also spurred by reports that a few teachers spent several hours on private tuition and attended college only for around an hour. Sources told The Telegraph that going by the huge number of college teachers in Assam, the new exercise was aimed at doing away with the laxity in their regular attendance.

A retired college principal in Silchar said there was a general deterioration of the ethical standard of college teachers in the state, as reflected in their apathy towards their daily attendance. He said the ACTA must now respect the government's decision.

Bhuyan said the association would follow the government’s instructions with all sincerity. “But at the same time, the association has requested the principals to install only those machines approved by AMTRON. But there are reports that some principals are forcing teachers to use unapproved brands of punching machines. Such a development might lead to unfair practices and thus, the ACTA requests principals to install the only the approved machines.”

He said the government must extend financial assistance to colleges to install high-quality biometric machines.

“There are many sincere teachers who spend more than eight to nine hours every day in their colleges. For them, the government must arrange a back-up manual system to register the additional hours they spend in college,” Bhuyan added.