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Makerere University Staff Associations Challenge Implementation of Biometric Access System

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Tensions are escalating at Makerere University as staff associations raise objections to the implementation of the Biometric Access System on campus, defying directives from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe.

Staff members, represented by associations including the Makerere University Academic Association-MUASA, Makerere University Administrative Staff Association-MASA, and National Union of Education Institutions-NUEI, expressed their dissent through a written response to Professor Nawangwe following the leakage of his memo on the system’s development in late October 2023.

Previously, MUASA had made it clear that they opposed the adoption of the Biometric Attendance Management System, citing more effective methods to monitor academic staff performance and productivity. The primary contention revolves around the perceived lack of comprehensive consultation and stakeholder engagement before initiating the Biometric system, which staff believe could impede their ability to fulfill the University’s mission.

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Nawangwe’s communication highlighted instances of perceived indiscipline among staff, emphasizing reported cases of deviations from official schedules, including instances where staff were alleged to be teaching at other institutions or organizations while neglecting their duties at Makerere. The Vice-Chancellor stressed the need for the Biometric Access System, framing it as a global norm in universities, aiming to address issues of academic integrity and discipline.

Despite Nawangwe’s firm assertion that the Biometric Access System would proceed as planned, warning MUASA against influencing staff into defiance, the staff associations stood their ground.

In their joint response, the associations argued for a more flexible approach, highlighting concerns about the proposed system’s rigidity, restricting staff to specific office hours. They emphasized the necessity for flexibility to engage in research both within the office and in external settings, raising questions about the practicality of mandated office hours interfering with research activities.

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The tension persists as staff associations maintain their stance against the Biometric Attendance Management System, advocating for more accommodating and alternative measures to monitor academic staff performance effectively while preserving their capacity for academic research and productivity.

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