Check with your child’s school how your personal information is stored. Picture: Steve Buissinne
Check with your child’s school how your personal information is stored. Picture: Steve Buissinne

#POPIA - Schools also have your personal information

By Nathan Adams Time of article published Jul 1, 2021

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Check with your child’s school how your personal information is stored. Picture: Steve Buissinne

It’s an essential part of registering a child when they go to school, but it’s worth checking how schools manage and store your personal information.

With the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) now law, how your information is stored and shared is something all third parties should be aware of.

Many parents and even teachers, overlook the fact that schools have your personal information like your address and banking details and assume that the information will be kept safe.

Chief executive of the d6 Group Willem Kitshoff said when people think of schools, they tend to think only about the learning, and tend to forget the complexities around the school management.

The company operates an online school management platform, used by more than 2500 schools around the country. He said schools handle a lot of data: “Schools have an average staff complement of 70 or more people and need to handle employee payroll, disciplinary procedures, leave, performance appraisals etc. Added to this are possibly 1000 learners in different age groups across different grades, plus their parents. Hand in hand with this comes all the needs of these students and parents – academic records, extra-mural activities, merit rewards, disciplinary actions, billings, communications, parent evenings – the list is almost endless.”

People have the right to ask and ensure that their information at public or private schools is safe and that their data isn’t compromised.

Kitshoff said many SA schools were operating with tech platforms that do not have cloud storage or backup systems, no data safety strategies and no way to access the data other than from a campus-based device.

He said: “In most cases, this old technology is not integrated, does not support complicated curriculum set ups, timetable management, communication, and administration, nor does it facilitate streamlined financial management and reporting. As highlighted during Covid, when schools had to switch to remote learning, these old systems left much to be desired. The POPIA Act also places a huge onus on schools for data safety.”

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