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Student absenteeism is a common though underappreciated problem in low-resource settings globally. Lost learning due to chronic absenteeism is associated with poor performance that can ultimately lead to school dropout. Existing paper-based systems for recording and reporting absences in schools are not designed for early identification of high-risk students and the threats they face, and are not designed for prompt, targeted action. Communication gaps between schools, parents, and health and child-protection service providers in these settings add to the problem. Parents and teachers communicate infrequently to be able to share concerns about student well-being in a timely manner. Links between schools and health or child protection services are ad-hoc that they do not allow pro-active support for children who need it most. These include girls, migrants, ethnic minorities, those in poverty, with disability, or medical needs.
Waliku addresses the poor understanding of student absenteeism, communication gaps between stakeholders, and delays in responding to high-risk absentees. By shifting daily teacher-tasks of taking student attendance, and recording reasons for absence to a digital interface, Waliku allows a better understanding of student absences on an individual, class and school-wide level. By using mobile and cloud-based communication, Waliku prompts action, facilitating coordination between teachers and parents, school administrators and individual classes, and between education, health and child-protection service providers. For example, when a child shows up as a red flag for either consecutively missing school days or not meeting minimum attendance, Waliku prompts the teacher and school to connect with the child and family to assess and respond to child needs. If the child needs a referral, using Waliku the teacher immediately alerts a local clinic or social-welfare provider.