Johannesburg - The education department plans to spend R480 million on a biometric clocking-in system to ensure that teachers are at work, Beeld reported on Thursday.

The system, which could be introduced at about 24,000 public schools, would ensure teachers arrived on time for work and spent the requisite number of hours on the job, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said.

She announced the plan last week, during a visit to the Pholoshong Primary School in KwaZulu-Natal.

Her spokesman, Panyaza Lesufi, said the old system, where teachers simply signed in, was no longer effective.

“We've had incidents where teachers have signed in on behalf of others or don't show up for work, then say they forgot to sign. Furthermore, sending the old register from the school to the department's offices is a hassle.”

With the biometric system, teachers' fingerprints would be scanned, and the data connected to other systems, such as the public service salary system.

Lesufi said it would deduct money from teachers' salaries if they did not supply a valid reason for their absenteeism.

Chris Klopper, chief executive of the SA Teachers' Union, labelled the project an attempt to treat the “symptoms of a diseased education system, rather than the causes”.

Sapa