Thu | Jun 4, 2020

Samuda orders probe into fingerprint collection by schools

Published:Wednesday | September 18, 2019 | 12:09 AM
Principal of Mona High School, Keven Jones.
Principal of Mona High School, Keven Jones.

The Ministry of Education has signalled that an investigation into the collection of fingerprints from teachers in public schools will be conducted immediately.

“While the ministry understands the need for an accurate record-keeping system, teachers cannot be compelled to provide biometric data such as fingerprints to schools. Section 3(1) of the Fingerprint Act directs that a person can only be compelled to provide fingerprints in specific criminal matters. The law also allows individual to refuse to give fingerprints in keeping,” Karl Samuda, the minister overseeing the education portfolio, said in Parliament yesterday.

“No action must be taken in this regard without the approval of the Ministry of Education, who will initiate immediate investigations into the entire thing, including the storage of fingerprints,” the minister added.

In an interview on RJR’s ‘Beyond The Headlines’ this week, principal of the St Andrew-based Mona High School, Keven Jones, said the biometric system was introduced at his institution at the start of the academic year to combat dishonesty among some teachers who were falsifying their attendance records.

Of the 140 teachers at the school, eight remained unconvinced about the system.

The minister ordered that the practice must cease, a decision with which Jamaica Teachers’ Association President Owen Speid agrees.

“Especially now that NIDS (National Identification and Registration Act) was struck down in court, that’s a precedent set, so you can’t be infringing upon the constitutional rights of anybody in this country. Unless the person agrees to it, you’re going to have difficulties getting around it, and you can’t be punitive towards that person at all if the person refuses either,” Speid told The Gleaner yesterday.