Makerere University Academic Staff Association (MUASA) is expressing opposition to the proposed introduction of a biometric attendance management system at Makerere University. This development follows the communication by University Secretary, Yusuf Kiranda, to all staff members and the University Council regarding the government’s decision to implement the Integrated Human Capital Management System (HCM) for automating Human Resource Management functions in the Public Service. This decision was communicated in a letter dated October 12th.
During a special meeting held on March 9, 2023, the University Council resolved to procure and implement a biometric staff management system aimed at improving staff compliance with time and attendance requirements. This biometric system is set to be integrated with the HCM attendance module. According to a letter from the University Council’s 161st meeting on September 21, 2023, the biometric attendance management system will involve a physical clock-in system to be placed across the University, where each staff member will be required to clock in at their respective duty stations.
Dr. Robert Kakuru, the Chairman of MUASA, has expressed his disagreement with this development. He argues that certain responsibilities of academic staff, like teaching and research, are becoming digitized. He stated, “We are hired to teach, do research, and engage in community service. Some of these functions, particularly teaching, are shifting towards digital platforms, such as online teaching. The introduction of biometrics could lead to the abandonment of online teaching, especially because many staff members share offices, which can cause inconveniences while teaching online in their respective offices. Furthermore, substantial financial support from donors like the MasterCard Foundation has been invested in facilitating online teaching.”
Dr. Kakuru further raised concerns about the fact that the work of academic staff often extends beyond the standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule mandated by the biometric system. He pointed out that academic staff frequently work late into the night, reading and evaluating dissertations, meeting grant deadlines, and writing articles and books. He questioned the practicality of requiring staff to clock in at midnight when they are engaged in such tasks, which he believes would demotivate the staff.
Dr. Kakuru also drew attention to the issue of inadequate remuneration for staff who work overtime, suggesting that the University Council and University Management may not fully grasp the responsibilities and demands placed on the staff. He emphasized that the University’s compensation for overtime work is notably insufficient.
In response to these concerns, Yusuf Kiranda clarified that staff members who have official clearance to be away from their duty stations will not be required to clock in on days when they have permission to be absent. Such authorizations will be granted in accordance with approved University policies and procedures, and the respective supervisors will be responsible for clearing staff members who are granted such permission on the attendance management system.