Makerere University staff associations have expressed their disapproval of the new biometric attendance system mandated by Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe. The staff, represented by the Makerere University Academic Association (Muasa), the Makerere University Administrative Staff Association (Masa), and the National Union of Education Institutions (Nuei), have raised concerns about the system’s impact on their work flexibility and research productivity.
In a written response to Nawangwe’s memo announcing the biometric system, the staff associations highlighted their objections. One of their primary concerns is the lack of adequate consultation and stakeholder engagement prior to the implementation of the system. They argue that this lack of consultation has led to a system that does not align with the university’s mission and the needs of its staff.
Nawangwe, in his communication, explained that the biometric system is being implemented to address issues of indiscipline among some staff members. He cited instances of staff members not adhering to official schedules, creating individual timetables that disregard student convenience, and engaging in teaching or work at other institutions during their Makerere employment.
The vice chancellor asserted that the biometric system is a global norm in universities and that Makerere is one of the few major international universities that has not yet implemented such a system. He warned Muasa against misleading staff members into defying the new policy and emphasized that adherence to university regulations is mandatory.
Despite Nawangwe’s warning, the staff associations have maintained their opposition to the biometric system. They argue that universities worldwide employ electronic access systems that allow staff to access offices and work at any time, unlike the proposed system of clocking in at 8:00 am and clocking out at 5:00 pm.
The staff associations emphasized the need for flexibility to engage in research both in the office and in the field and community, which they believe would be hindered by the rigid 8:00 am to 5:00 pm work schedule. They questioned how they can effectively conduct research while being confined to their offices during those hours.
Nawangwe’s previous call for staff members to increase their publication rates and transform Makerere University into a research-led institution was also met with skepticism from the staff associations. They expressed concerns about the practicality of achieving this expectation given the limitations imposed by the biometric system.
The ongoing dispute between the vice chancellor and the staff associations highlights the challenges of implementing new policies without adequate consultation and consideration for the diverse needs of the university community. The resolution to this conflict will likely have a significant impact on the university’s work environment and its ability to achieve its goals.