Schools in North Ayrshire say the system will speed up queues, but parents and campaigners have complained students aren’t being adequately informed about the privacy risks.
Nine schools have begun taking payments from children for lunch by using facial recognition software to automatically identify each student.
The system, which the schools in North Ayrshire claim will speed up queues and reduce the COVID-19 risks of card payments and fingerprint scanners, is being launched today.
But some parents and campaigners warn that it normalises exposing children to biometric surveillance, and complained they weren’t confident the students were adequately informed about the privacy risks.
“It’s the fastest way of recognising someone at the till,” David Swanston, the managing director of CRB Cunninghams – the company that provided the system – told the Financial Times newspaper.
“In a secondary school you have about a 25-minute period to serve potentially 1,000 pupils. So we need fast throughput at the point of sale,” he added, telling the newspaper the average transaction time using the system was five seconds per pupil.Advertisement
According to North Ayrshire council, 97% of children or their parents had consented to the use of facial recognition in schools.
The Department for Education says it does not monitor the use of the technology by schools.
Similar uses in American schools have led to states such as New York temporarily banning the technology.
Fraser Sampson, the Biometrics Commissioner for England and Wales – whose predecessors have complained that facial recognition technology is not covered under the same laws as DNA and fingerprints – said if there is a less intrusive way for children to pay for their lunches, then it should be used.
The use of live facial recognition systems for policing stretches back to 2015, when Leicestershire Police trialled a system in the queues to enter Download Festival at Donnington Park.
Non-live versions used for mugshot matching and for authenticating people to log-in to their mobile phones introduce fewer privacy concerns as there is more control over whose face is being matched.
Campaigners are concerned that the technology exposes people in crowds to potential arrest without reasonable cause.
Despite the outcry following this event – that the technology was not regulated on an equal footing to other biometrics, such as fingerprints and DNA, despite potentially being even more invasive – no legislation has been introduced putting it on an equal statutory footing.
The system is today used in a range of environments where there is a desire to identify individuals in a crowd, from E-Gates at airports through to Notting Hill Carnival.
An independent study commissioned by the Metropolitan Police found that the system is 81% inaccurate.
Silkie Carlo, the head of Big Brother Watch, said: “It’s normalising biometric identity check for something that is mundane. You don’t need to resort to airport-style [technology] for children getting their lunch.”
Aggrieved law students demonstrate over entrance exams failures
Members of the National Association of Law Students (NALS) and some persons who couldn’t make it into the Ghana School of Law this year hit the streets today, Wednesday, October 20, 2021, to demand reforms in Ghana’s legal education regime.
The students had blamed the General Legal Council (GLC) for their inability to gain admission to the school.
They went through some principal streets of Accra and will subsequently submit a petition to Parliament.
Michael Osei Koranteng, the president of the students studying law at the Zenith University College in Accra, in a Citi News interview, said they are demonstrating because they believe the GLC is deliberately preventing more students from accessing legal education.
“This demonstration was organized by the National Association of Law Students in support of all 499 students who were denied admission because what affects your brother or sister also affects you. This thing has happened in the last two years, and it is still ongoing, and we can’t sit down and watch it.”
The pass mark for the entrance exams has always been 50% in both sections, but for this year’s exams, the rule was allegedly changed, so candidates had to score at least 50% in both sections before sailing through.
Some 499 candidates who were part of those who failed the exams insisted that they would have gained access to the Ghana School of Law if not for the new policy introduced by the GLC.
In September, the GLC in a press release indicated that 790 candidates out of a total of 2,824 students who sat for the 2021 entrance exams passed.
The aggrieved students are however unhappy with the said policy, hence their decision to protest to put pressure on the appropriate authorities to reform the legal education system.
Some of them held placards with inscriptions such as “Reform Legal Education Now, #We Need Total Reforms Now, GLC Is Not Above the Law”
40-yr-old teacher defies GES order to go on compulsory retirement
A forty-year old teacher in the Upper Manya Krobo District has been given notice to go on compulsory retirement before his retirement age is due.
Isaac Kwabla Tettey, has been teaching for the past 20 years. He was posted to the Sutapong near sekesua upper manya krobo in the eastern region 10 years ago.
He was one of the people who trooped to the Youth and Employment Agency
Job fair at the Accra International Conference Center hoping to get a new job from.
The Ghana Education Service, GES recently sent him a letter ordering him to go on retirement because he is 60 years old and due to go on retirement. The embattled basic school teacher has defied the GES orders and demands that the decision be reversed.
The GES has requested for his class one register to confirm his year of birth.
Speaking on the Sunrise Morning show on 3FM, Kwabla Tettey said, “I followed up to my class one school and sat with the Headmistress but she couldn’t find it. I did not manipulate my date of birth. The District Directorate has my birth certificate. When you are employed and you open the portal you input in your personal records. I think that the person inputting the information made it 1961 instead of 1981. It was after I received my notice of retirement that I noticed there was something wrong”.
His records at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, SSNIT, shows that he was born on 31st December, 1981.
According to Isaac Tettey, He was directed to the GES to rectify it because the district cannot resolve it. The GES subsequently said they would investigate the matter by bringing their team of lawyers to meet the man.
The GES directive for him to go on leave will expire in the next three months and the desperate Isaac Tettey “My wife has divorced me, the father came for her because I am an irresponsible husband. I took a loan from the bankers with the agreement that when my salary comes I will pay them but the salary came and it was only 3 months instead of 39 months in arrears. I take home less than GHC 400. I have four children; my sister who has passed away has four and I am taking care of them as well .The teacher Unions are not helping us because I have complained to them but they failed me.
“Look at the number of years I have been teaching?. Sometimes they post us to very remote areas and we climb down from cars to push the car because the road is un motorable. In some areas there is no safe drinking water for teachers. The women have typhoid regularly in the village I teach now”.
When 3FM contacted the Head of Compensation at GNAT, Ahenakwa Quarshie, he advised the teacher to petition the association and GES, saying the association will be more than willing to assist him.
Attempts to get the Ghana Education Service for their response however proved futile.
AG, Achimota School drag Rastafarian students back to Court on appeal
The Achimota School and the Attorney-General have gone back to court to contest the ruling of the High Court that some two Rastafarian students, Tyrone Iras Marhguy and Oheneba Kwaku Nkrabea, be admitted.
The boys had sued the Achimota School Board of Governors, the Minister of Education, Ghana Education Service, and the Attorney General for refusing to enroll them.
The school at the time had said the boys had to cut their dreadlocks, failure of which the school said was at variance with its rules and regulations.
The Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo on May 31, however, ruled that the fundamental human rights of the two students cannot be limited by the rules of the school.
The judge held the view that Achimota School and proponents, including GES and the Attorney General failed to justify why the two students should not be admitted.
She premised her position on the fundamental human rights guaranteed under the Constitution of Ghana, 1992, especially the boys’ rights to education and their rights to express their religious freedom.
In appealing the case, Achimota School argues that the High Court erred when it held that the rules and regulations of the school with regard to ensuring uniformity in appearance is unlawful and interferes with one’s religious rights.
In view of this, the school is urging the Appeals Court to set aside the judgement of the High Court and order the plaintiffs to comply with the school’s regulations if they choose to be students of the school.
Backing this stance, the AG’s department insists the judge erred in her ruling. The AG further goes on to argue that, the decision by Achimota School does not interfere with the right to the education of the boys.
“The learned Judge erred when she held that the regulation of the 1st Respondent requiring that students keep their hair low amounted to an illegal and unconstitutional attempt to suspend the manifestation of the Applicant’s guaranteed freedom to practice and manifest his religion….
“The learned Judge erred when she held that Respondent’s actions of asking the Applicant to step aside during the registration process are a violation of his right to dignity especially when the 2nd Respondent had disputed the veracity of that fact,” parts of the appeal by the AG’s office stated.
In March this year, Achimota School issued admission letters to the two students but indicated that they would only be enrolled on the condition that they shave their dreadlocks in accordance with the School’s academic regulations.
However, an Accra High Court has ordered Achimota School to admit the two Rastafarian students it denied enrollment.
The Governing Board of the Achimota School subsequently announced its decision to appeal the ruling by the Human Right Division of the Accra High Court, ordering it to admit the two Rastafarian students.
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