KARACHI: There was a mad rush at the IT data centre of the education and literacy department in the Sindh secretariat on Tuesday, which was the deadline for the biometric registration of all teaching and non-teaching staff of government schools and colleges across the province.
“We have been registering school and college staff non-stop since 9am today. We had only eaten breakfast before coming here and there has been no time for lunch and even tea,” said Sajjad Soomro, one of the senior programmers at the data cell, while speaking to Dawn.
“There are data centres in Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas and Larkana, too, but the online systems hub is in Karachi. The files are given bar codes here. Also from here we send out all notifications,” said Ali Raza, another senior programmer there.
“So not just from Karachi, we are getting people from all over Sindh like those who need to get their data filed. You see, those coming in for biometric registration must already have their data in the main system. Then all that they need to do is bring along their original CNIC and a payslip and we’ll add to their other data the details from here.
“Registration for those who are still in the process of submitting their basic data will take more time and the deadline does not apply to them, as they are only just starting the process. The same goes for new teachers and those who will be hired later. Therefore, this biometric registration exercise will be an ongoing process,” explained the senior programmer. “Only now there is so much rush here due to the backlog. Once everything is streamlined it will be smooth sailing from here,” he added.
The moment one person was let inside, there were more knocking and banging on the door as the people lined up outside, waiting for several hours, were getting tired and wanted to get it over with.
Nur Mohammad, a peon there, said he used up his entire strength shutting the door after allowing in one person as many more were pushing the door to come in from the other side. “But I have my orders to allow in one person at a time,” he said.
The person he had let in was Safdar Ali Najmi, a blind gentleman, who is an associate professor of Education at Sir Syed Government Girls College. “I think this biometric registration is a brilliant idea that will make our work transparent. It is very fair,” he said.
Asked why he waited this long to get himself registered at the last moment, he said he had been away in India and just returned home from there.
Samina Yasmin, a schoolteacher from Thatta, said she had come to Karachi to get her basic data filed from here as she had tried registering from near her area but when nothing showed up on the system there she was directed to reach this place to get the job done.
“I just had cataract surgery. I have been here since morning and my turn is just not coming up, as stronger people just push me aside to enter before me for the registration,” complained Syeda Begum, who said her designation was of a peon at Korangi No 1 School.
Outside on the road, someone’s driver getting out of a white Toyota Corolla was busy arguing on the phone with someone on the other end. “Look Sir, yes, yes, I understand you need the car right now. I will only be slightly late as I need to get my biometric registration done today only. Otherwise, my salary will be discontinued. Yes, yes, I know, I know. But Sir, how can I kiss this income goodbye. Just give me one hour and I’ll be there to pick you up,” he said.
According to a notification issued a day earlier, Senior Minister for Education and Literacy Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said all teaching and non-teaching staff of schools and colleges in the province were to get their biometric registration done by Tuesday or else their salaries would be stopped and they would no longer be acknowledged as staff.
Meanwhile, Sindh Education Secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho said he completely backed the senior minister’s decision to issue the deadline for biometric registration.
“Yes, I am aware about the mad rush of school and college staff for registration,” he said. “I had set up so many registration centres for their convenience all over Karachi but earlier they took it as a joke. Now they have waken up after realising that not getting themselves registered will result in discontinuation of their salaries,” he said.
“Our staff at the data cells at the secretariat as well as DJ Science College worked non-stop on Tuesday. Those who they could not fingerprint they’ll register tomorrow too. They are basically those people whose basic data is to be fed to the system or those who have been unwell to get the work done earlier. They will get service at the two data centres mentioned until Feb 29. As for the others, registration has been closed. We have no intention of extending the deadline,” said the education secretary.
Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2016