Jenkins School in Cooch Behar. Picture by Main Uddin Chisti

TT, Cooch Behar, July 22: A school in Cooch Behar has decided to use electronic cards to inform parents by SMS when the child enters the campus in a move to check bunking of classes.

Jenkins School, which plans to do this, is the oldest English-medium institution in the district that was established in 1861 by the erstwhile princes of Cooch Behar. It is a boys’ school with 1,300 students who read from Classes III to XII.
The immediate trigger for setting up an electronic attendance system is the death of a schoolboy this month.
On July 11, a Class XII student of Jenkins, Brihotjyoyi Sarkar, drowned in a pond in the town. “We later found out that he had been leaving home but not coming to school for over 10 days,” a teacher of the school said.
The school proposes to set up an electronic system that will scan at the gate each student as he enters wearing or carrying a chip-embedded card. Once the boy enters the gate, an automated text message will be sent to the registered cellphone number of the parent saying the ward had entered school.
Today, Jenkins sent a proposal to the state school education department seeking funds for installing the system. Jenkins is a state government-run school.
Headmaster Debabrata Mukhopadhyay said the teachers and the guardians were “deeply interested” in introducing the system. “We have discussed the matter at the school managing committee meeting. Apart from installing CCTV cameras at the gates, we will introduce an SMS-based system for monitoring attendance of the students. We have already contacted Webel, Infosof Technologies and Fastas Group regarding the system,” Mukhopadhyay said.
“It will cost each student around Rs 10 to Rs 15 a year to run the SMS system. The cost has been agreed upon by the managing committee. We have sent a proposal to the department of school education requesting Rs 3 to 4 lakh for the system,” he added.
Sources said all students would be issued the electronic cards.
“These cards will be embedded with a micro-chip unique for each student. The school entrance will have a card reader that will automatically scan the cards and instantly generate the SMS and send it to a particular guardian’s cellphone. The information would be stored in a server in the school,” said a source.
Once the server is installed, the roll-call system would cease to exist.
Nepal Mitra, the spokesperson for the school’s guardian’s committee, said it was a novel idea. “We welcome the decision and if it is implemented, it will be of great help in ensuring regular attendance of the students,” he said.
According to sources in the school, many boys, mainly senior students, do not attend classes regularly. Students are often seen spending the school hours in parks and cyber cafes.
A Class XII boy who did not want to be named said many of his friends stayed away from class. “Many of us spend the day in Internet cafes, playing games or surfing. Some even roam in parks. If this system is introduced, we will not be able to skip classes,” the boy said.