Connecting government school teachers to parents in Himachal Pradesh

Introduction
Parents are central to a child’s motivation to do well in school. However, in many low-income families, students studying in government schools tend to be first-generation learners. As such many parents are not involved in their child’s education. One way to mitigate this challenge is by keeping them abreast of their child’s performance at school on a more frequent basis.
Design
To this end, the Government of Himachal Pradesh, supported by Samagra’s Samarth and technology teams, developed an app called e-Samwad using Open Source technology. The app is used by teachers to send regular predefined SMS updates to parents. Keeping in mind connectivity issues, the app has been designed to operate in offline mode as well.
Teachers can download the e-Samwad app from the Google Play Store. The Department of Education has created school-specific IDs for teachers which they can use to log into the App. Once logged in they can choose the kind of SMS they want to send to the parent such as attendance, homework completion status, assessment results, SMC meeting, PTM meetings, holidays and information regarding important 
events in the school. Each parent subsequently receives a customised SMS about their child. Messages can be sent in English and Hindi.

A teacher using the e-Samwad app
Implementation
The app was designed in close collaboration with teachers who will eventually use this application. The development team consulted various teachers for their feedback to make user flows more acceptable to a wider set of users. A version of the app was tested in Mandi district for more than a month and a significant amount of feedback was gathered from the users there–both technical and functional. After extensive testing and upgrading the app, the app was launched by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shri Jairam Thakur, last year. Subsequently, extensive training of teachers and block officials was conducted to ensure higher degree of familiarity and quicker adoption. 
Impact
Within 3 weeks of its launch in March 2020, the app was used by 7,828 schools in the state to reach out to 80,636 parents, sending out 1.3 lakh messages. Once schools reopen for this academic year after the COVID lockdown is lifted, all 15,000+ schools in HP are expected to start using e-Samwad. This app is free for use by the Education Department of any state in India.
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