Biometrics in Education – A Growing Demand

Biometrics in Education – A Growing Demand

Biometric technology is becoming increasingly more powerful and cost-effective, and it has been making inroads into education sector. Educational institutions recognize the threat of insecurity to their children and are starting to adopt biometric identification systems to protect the students under their care. A growing trend is that biometric access control devices are being used to grant access to classrooms, colleges, universities and other service areas like canteens, dormitories and recreational facilities.

Biometric technology can provide many benefits in terms of convenience, safety and security. One of the most popular applications of biometrics in school is “cashless catering system” for school meals. In particular, individual pupils can be identified at the till by an automated biometric recognition mechanism and pay for the meal with the cost of their lunch being automatically deducted from the credit paid in advance by the parents. Besides, another well-known application is using biometrics for tracking the attendance of students and teachers.  In details, an automated biometric system for recording attendance will be installed at the school gate or in class to identify the students and teachers for every roll-call. Once biometrics is being used successfully in one part of a school, the technology is usually embraced in other areas as well .Schools can then use the same biometric database to identify students for other applications such as online learning, library,  media service, school trip and tours  . Schools even can use biometrics for student identification at athletic events and dances to keep out other students who don’t belong.

In reality, the first reported use of biometric systems in school was at Minnesota’s Eagan High School in US in March 1997. Eagan High School, a testing ground for education technology since it opened, allowed willing students to use fingerprint readers to speed up the borrowing of library books. The use of biometric technology continued widening to the UK and first introduced in 2002. Fast-forward to 2014, reports indicated that 1.28 million British students attended biometric secondary schools & academies. Nowadays, the use of this technology in schools has become wider spread in other countries in Europe (Belgium, Sweden, France, Italy, etc.), Asia (China, Hong Kong, etc.), and Australia and recently in Middle East (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, etc.) and Africa (South Africa, Kenya, etc.). In 2012, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the US, is pushing to develop an “engagement pedometer” which is a biometric bracelet enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and zoned out. The foundation has given $1.4 million in grants to several university researchers to begin testing the devices in middle-school classrooms. In 2013, Sunderland brought in fingerprint-scanning devices for lectures on its London campus, replacing traditional paper registers. Ruth Davison, student relations and compliance manager at Sunderland, said the system had been installed because the site was “entirely international” and the Home Office required that all attendance be monitored. In 2015, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education is launching a tender process for a fingerprint attendance and leave system for 45 education departments. Besides, within the year, Henan University of Technology in Henan Province and Minjiang University in Fujian Province of China have deployed facial recognition systems to track student attendance.

Educate market is having a growing demand in many biometric applications. With the use of biometrics, it can address many problems occurring from elementary to university such as class attendance, library books borrowing, cashless canteen systems, vending machines, school trips and tours, and bus journeys. Schools will be capable of monitoring teacher performance on class, in school and allow them to have limited authorization to access different resources and report accurately the teaching status. The increase in demand of biometrics for education forces many biometric companies to adopt and develop the technologies to meet the market demand and provide children the best secure and convenient education environment.