For a population of 2.5 million people, Toronto libraries have a total of 7.5 million books, and another 3.5 million items, including magazines, CDs and videos.
I picked up the phone and instinctively said “ hello I am – – “. The voice at the other was unfamiliar, crisp and not interested in inanities or introductions. It straight came to the point. “This is a message from school. A student in your household in grade 11, named ——- was absent on January 12 in period 3. Please call the school or send a note to provide an explanation.” While I had heard and known that the schools did operate automated systems to inform the parents if a student was to skip a class for any reason, I did not realise how efficient and prompt this system was and the role this early warning system played in reducing chronic absenteeism. Schools have reported a 30-50 % drop in class skipping within two weeks of a new installation. In many schools 90% kids stopped skipping almost instantaneously.
Mark Miller of Synre Voice Technologies Inc. came up with the technology that allows schools to phone or e-mail parents when students decide they would rather be elsewhere. It is now used by more than 2000 schools in Canada and the US.
The system works this way. Attendance is taken by the teacher on a standardised form, which is then scanned into the school’s computer, which in turn activates the automatic phone calls / e-mails. The school computer keeps a record of calls made for each kid and can generate helpful statistics such as the most skipped teacher, subject, student or the time of the day.
Can there be a cheaper Pakistani equivalent of this $5000 per school automated information system. What kind of schools may be interested in adopting such a system. Some may consider it smarter to first start with tracking teachers before going on to students.