Three schools in Bengal’s districts, two of them in rural areas, have controlled the menace of truancy by employing Radio Frequency Identification tags that register presence of the students the moment they pass in front of a reader device at the gates that sends alerts to their guardians about their movement. Two schools are in the rural belts of Nadia and Bankura districts while the third one is in Burdwan town.
The cards hang from the necks of the students. All movements in and out of the gate are registered and the parents get to know it instantly. The company that has installed the technology has embellished the offering with a phone-based app that gives the details of homework for the students to the parents.
The use of RFID cards in schools, both government-funded and private, was unheard of in Bengal. The state government, however, has set up biometric attendance systems for doctors in hospitals and employees in some departments to improve attendance.
Though the school authorities don’t have statistics of truancy before the system was installed, authorities told HT it is a common malaise in the state and they have been able to eliminate it with the help of technology. The system has a collateral benefit -- the time lost in roll call of students is utilised in studies as the system produces the attendance data.
“The menace of truancy has vanished. It’s a fool proof system,” Ratan Sarkar, secretary of St Peters English School in Nadia’s Krishnaganj told HT. It is located within 5 km of the Bangladesh border.
Concurred acharya Satyanisthananda of Durlabhpur Anandamarg School in Bankura district. “The technology has effectively dealt with this age old problem. The parents get to know real time whether they students are attending school and when they are entering and exiting it,” he told HT.
The Nadia school enrols students up to class VIII and is seeking affiliation to CBSE. It was established in 2013 and has 445 students. The attendance system was installed in June 2016. The add-ons for homework and notification were done last month.
“The guardians are happy with the system. While it takes care of the truancy factor, guardians also don’t ned to network for homework details if any student remains absent. They get it on phone automatically. They also get all notifications sent by me,” added Sarkar.
“We adopted the system in January, 2017 and the guardians are satisfied. We take Rs 450 per student annually to part finance the system. Every year the system costs Rs 800 per student,” said Acharya Kritatma Nanda Avadhut, principal of Burdwan Anandamarg School that has installed the system. This school has 650 students.
“The device can read 75 students at a time. It’s a first in the state,” said Anumoy Biswas , creative designer of Progoti, the Krishnagar-based company that installed the technology.
“We are happy as it has reduced tension. The system keeps up constantly updated on the attendance, homework and even notices issued by the authorities,” said Sujit Kumar Dey and Suvamita Dutta, two guardians of the Nadia school.