Latvian schools try out surveillance system to monitor attendance

Feb 15, 2012
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A few Latvian schools are experimenting with an electronic monitoring system to keep track of students’ attendance, but some are uneasy about the innovation in a country with its own Soviet-era history of surveillance and repression.

Three schools began testing a keycard/turnstile entry system in October for security purposes, Deutsche Welle reports, but last month it was combined with an online application that harvests data from the card swipes to record which students come to school each day.

The news agency says more than half of Latvia’s 900 primary and secondary schools use a limited version of the app, with which teachers can manually enter attendance information online without having the keycard system installed. Parents can access the information under either the manual or automated versions of the app.

Klavs Sedlenieks, a social anthropologist at Riga Stradins University, told Deutsche Welle that the system should be optional so that not everyone is “controlled and monitored all the time.”

“If a kid has some kind of problems or something, then you make these measures and say – well, until you behave as an adult we are […] controlling you,” Sedlenieks said.

(Front page image: Wikimedia user Aleksandrs Timofejevs)

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Transitions Online

Transitions Online ( is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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