I'm holding this post back for 8 hours. This conversation took place this morning (09/08) at 09:30. Yes, it's Women's Day. So to placate those howling, "it's a public holiday", I will wait.
One of the biggest headaches schools the world over face is getting parents involved in the education of their children. There are a number of ways this is being done. Many schools use newsletters or SMS or place communique slips into academic progress reports or resort to emailing links to "events calendars" an so on. The occasional fundraiser event and budget meeting is also employed to create community spirit. Hopefully no one is still posting letters.
Many schools are turning to technology to promote parent involvement. These means have had great success in some schools and in others have fallen short. Often the take up rate is influenced by economics and the comfortability of staff and parents to use the technology. In poor communities, take up has traditionally being mediocre. These institutions have not been able to penetrate parental apathy. Add the cost factor, and the effort just becomes too draining.
So the meeting this morning was with a developer that uses a familiar tool. An APP that allows schools to SMS assignment, homework and meeting reminders to parents. It can also be used to send assessments results directly to the parents' designated phone number.
This is not revolutionary technology, but unlike most proprietary software, doesn't cost a fortune. The appeal lies in its simplicity and that your phone only needs to be WAP enabled. That requirement is covered by 99% of phones on the market.
We are looking to create a pilot of 10 schools that will commit to using the APP in spite of the difficulties our poorer schools have to get teachers and parents to embrace e-communication. The benefits by far exceed the downside.
Now, who is willing to take the 1st step?