The Truancy Assessment Project (TAP) is a technology-based solution to chronic absenteeism in 10 rural secondary schools. The project objectives are to identify the causes of chronic absenteeism and to avert trends that lead to attendance issues and school dropout.
Chronic absenteeism and truancy are critical issues to address because they can be precursors to school dropout, academic failure, and juvenile delinquency. Many experts agree that early interventions and interventions that specifically target certain at-risk students--both of which are TAP approaches--are effective methods of stymying absenteeism and the negative distal health outcomes thereof. In India, such issues are particularly problematic because, according to UNESCO, 15.3% of all students drop out before the last grade of lower secondary general education as of 2012.
Currently, attendance data is recorded via paper form--thus leaving room for human error--or sometimes not recorded at all. This makes it extremely difficult to identify patterns of absenteeism and who is at risk of dropping out of school. This lack of reliable data hinders the government's ability to make informed decisions and enact appropriate education policy.
HOW IT WORKS
The purpose of TAP is to implement an inexpensive and simple biometric system, called eAttendance, that will track and store students’ daily attendance records electronically. The program consists of two major components:
(1) a fingerprint scanner paired with a netbook or tablet running a tracking software to accurately measure school attendance
(2) dedicated Education Extension Workers (EEWs) to work with at-risk chronically absent students
The program works by using students’ fingerprints to record daily attendance each time the student is present at school. The attendance records from the schools are aggregated wirelessly to a central location where EEWs are able to analyze the data and identify students who are at risk of becoming chronically absent.
EEWs are then dispatched into the community in order to pinpoint the reason for the absence and address each student’s individual needs to improve attendance. Interventions include home visits, parent engagement, and one-on-one sessions with EEWs.