Lisneal pupils amongst fingerprinted

FIVE schools in Londonderry - including Lisneal College - have taken fingerprints of pupils to help introduce a cashless school meal service and eradicate bullying.

Lisneal, St Peter's, St Mary's, St Brigid's and St Cecilia's have all implemented the biometric fingerprint identification system, as has St Patrick's and St Brigid's College, Claudy, and Limavady High, Limavady Grammar, St Mary's High School in the Roe Valley.

Education Minister Caitrona Ruane said the system had been introduced to speed up school meals services and to eliminate the need for cash - a key motivation for bullies.

She outlined the details in response to an Assembly Question stating: "I am not aware of any plans to implement the scheme in other schools at the moment.

"I am advised that the data relating to pupils is used for school meals purposes only and parents/pupils do have the choice to opt out of the system should they wish to do so.

"The Education and Library Boards that have schools operating the system have advised that, compared to the card cashless system, the biometric system is more efficient.

"They claim it speeds up service and eradicates the identification of free meal takers in the dining hall. Also they claim it reduces cash handling which can ultimately reduce bullying in the school."

She revealed the cost of implementing the system across all Northern Ireland's schools was 425,000.

The implementation of fingerprinting is subject to consultation between the relevant Education and Library Board and the individual school, said the Minister.

The Education MInister also said she was not aware of any plans to introduce a retina identity scheme.