New Delhi: In September 2017, a seven-year-old student from Ryan International School was murdered, leading to a CBI investigation and sparking a debate about safety in Indian schools. A string of such incidents prompted Aseem Ahuja to explore how technology could make schools safer.
Ahuja, who runs IWS Edusolutions Pvt. Ltd, has been working with over 60 schools across India, providing them with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and web solutions. In July 2018, he developed an app called Gateway to School, which offers a simple way to identify people visiting a school. It can identify parents, by creating digital identity cards for them with QR codes. When a parent visits their ward’s school, the QR code can be scanned at the gate.
At the same time, an “exit code" is generated by the system and sent to the parent’s phone via SMS. This code is entered into the system when the parent leaves the school, confirming their exit.
When strangers visit, the app allows school security to confirm their identity by storing photos of their identity cards, their phone number and photo. The exit code is also sent to the stranger’s phone. The app is free to Ahuja’s existing partners for now.
Other companies, too, are working on security solutions. Ashish Jain, director of marketing, EduNext, points out that schools have started taking security more seriously. EduNext has been developing technologies for schools for eight years, but has taken up the security aspect only in the last three years. According to Jain, India has over 300 players in the education ERP management software industry.
Like Gateway to School, EduNext’s solution is also linked to the school’s ERP system. When a student enters school, they use radio-frequency identification processes to mark their attendance. Their parents are simultaneously notified about it. EduNext currently works with over 350 schools across India, including 55 branches of the Delhi Public School, nine branches of GD Goenka and 22 branches of Seth MR Jaipuria school. Jain said that while the adoption of these services is higher in Tier 1 cities, and from private schools, schools in smaller towns have also been exploring options like these.
Schools seem to be finding these ERP apps helpful. Krishnan Raju Nair, school administrator, Chinmaya Vidyalaya, explained that the user-friendliness of the Gateway to School app makes it easy for parents, security guards and other personnel to adopt the apps. “We did have to give some training (to the guards), but they all use touch-screen phones now, so they got it easily," he said.
What these enterprise apps do
■ Student attendance and real-time updates to parents
■ Login and identification for students, parents and strangers visiting the school
■ Parents can check homework assigned to students
■ Provide school calendars showing holidays, etc.
■ Special circulars and notices issued by the school