Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Over 150 schools in Saudi Arabia have adopted the “school communications” system, which is also known as “electronic schools” through which parents of students can interact with the administration of the school.
The schools communication system sends voice messages to the parents of students through a land-line periodically to inform parents of the academic standing and behavior of their children. The system also interacts with parents using SMS. This program, which is being offered by one company, allows parents to track the behavior of their children, any absences, lateness, the school timetable and so on.
Asked about the extent to which the Ministry of Education represented by the educational development department would rely on the communications system, an official from this department told Asharq Al Awsat that the program is not available to all schools at present. The official, who spoke to Asharq Al Awsat on condition of anonymity, stated that the Ministry of Education has not planned to implement the communications system but that it is encouraging schools to set up websites as part of the Ministry’s website.
On his part, Ali al Hamoud, the head of the English language department of the Prince Mohammed Bin Saud complex, the supervisor of the schools communications program stated that the cost of the communications program varies and that state schools would pay 1500 Saudi Riyals (US $5625) and public schools would pay up to 2500 Saudi Riyals (US $9375) for it. He stated that schools from many provinces have shown an interest in the program and that the importance lies in the problem of overcrowding in school administrative jobs and student counseling.
Al Hamoud explained that the communications program replaces the role of a secretary as it receives and responds to the queries of parents through voicemail, fax and text messaging. These queries can then be dealt with by the headmaster, deputy headmaster or student counselor.