Fingertip truancy alert is not so handy

4th May 2007 at 01:00
Fingertip truancy alert is not so handy

sending text messages to the parents of absent pupils is almost old hat for Britain's tech-savvy teachers, who can easily differentiate between "CUL8R"

and "GR8".

Hundreds of schools here pay for systems such as Truancy Call, which transmits SMS messages automatically when children are missing from the register, and ministers promised last month that they would pay for 400 more schools to try the approach.

But teachers in Germany are not quite so comfortable with their mobile phones.

An attempt to introduce a similar anti-truancy scheme in Cologne has collapsed after it emerged that many teachers in the city did not understand how to send texts.

Uli Breite, head of the local liberal FDP party, who wanted the message system introduced, said: "We wanted a simple way for teachers to inform parents if a child was absent. When I heard we would need to arrange user instruction, I could not believe it."

School authorities in Cologne also had concerns about potential problems caused by the collection and storage of parents' mobile numbers, as well as the estimated cost of the scheme.

Ironically, the German word for a mobile is a "handy".

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