dial a number to get news about your child’s activity in school

When thousands of mobile phone users hurried to register with the Do Not Call registry a few months ago they also blocked their child's school from sending information along with annoying messages from telemarketers. A city school has now found a way to bypass this difficulty without flouting rules.

Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram in Kilpauk has started an Interactive Voice Response System that allows parents to get class-specific information in the teacher's or principal's voice. "Last monsoon we faced a problem informing parents about rain holidays, because many of them had signed up with the DND registry. We wanted to make sure that parents are updated on everything the school does, and on classroom activities," said senior principal Ajeeth Prasath Jain.

The school will run the IVRS on a trial basis for Classes 6, 7 and 8 till February and scale it up to include all classes from the next academic year in April. The information provided can range from what was done in class, homework, and holidays to celebrations. Parents are thrilled. Sharon Thadeus, mother of an LKG student, said, "When I ask my son what happened in school today he hardly tells me anything. I speak to the teachers when I can, but this will help me be more aware of what is happening in class."

The system, designed by Voice Snap, is an application on the IVR platform. While the day's information is available after 4.30 pm, it can be accessed anytime for seven working days after which it is erased.

Teachers are expected to record 30-second-long messages, but can speak for even 5-10 minutes. "As it is a one-way conversation, we don't expect the messages to be too long. Short messages have a better response," said Voice Snap founder Ganesh Padmanabhan. He said 120 parents could call concurrently at present, but that traffic to the number would be monitored and the span increased according to the requirements.

Padmanabhan said such a computer telephony integration had several advantages over paper circulars as it didn't get lost, soiled or torn, and was sure of reaching the parent at his or her convenience, besides saving on paper. It scores over SMSes as it needed to be shortened to cryptic messages, is more personalized in the teacher's voice, and will not be lost even if the phone is out of coverage area or switched off.

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