Connecting Parents & Schools

Connecting Parents & Schools

Connecting Parents & Schools

Published by Uwin Lugoda, “The Morning”, on 29/03/2020:

One of the greatest challenges faced by the current education system is the communication gap between parents and the schools of their children. This problem has persisted for a long time, regardless of whether the schools are open and regardless of whether a pandemic does not exist.

However, in these challenging times, the need for schools and students’ parents to communicate clearly and succinctly is especially vital, as many schools look to keep parents informed of their children’s academic future and shift from school learning to remote learning.

In general, communication between parents and schools is an essential component that fuels the learning process of students. In an interview with The Sunday Morning Business, Yara Technologies (Pvt.) Ltd. Director Chaminda V. Silva stated that from an industry perspective, communication between the schools and parents is very scattered, with no formal channels via which they can communicate. According to him, this has led schools to use multiple channels such as social media, text, or traditional paper-based communication methods, which could lead to conveying flawed messages between the two parties.

“The problem is that communication between the schools and parents has remained the same since I was a schoolboy. Looking at this from a school’s perspective, they are focused on educating the future generations. So when they have to focus on communicating as well, it creates inefficiencies,” he explained.

In order to address this need for disruption, Yara Technologies, a technology solutions provider, officially launched the app “Talkative Parents” last Thursday (26). This app acts as a digital platform which connects educational institutes such as schools and preschools with parents.

Talkative Parents looks to disrupt the Sri Lankan education sector and transform school communication, including school notice books and calendars into an easy-to-use app that is set to improve school-to-parent engagement.

“What we have done is digitise the long-standing communication system between schools and parents, turning it into an app that can be the formal platform for all the communication needs between schools and parents,” Silva noted.

He stated that the app was first developed internationally between 2016 and 2017 and was brought down to Sri Lanka in 2018, after which Yara Technologies spent a year adding a number of enhancements to localise the app.

He went on to state that by creating this form of channel, there is a lot less ambiguity surrounding communication and also addresses any confusion that may arise when receiving messages from multiple sources.

“Parents are now a bit more hands-on and would like to know what goes on in schools. So this particular platform facilitates the engagement between parents and schools in a controlled way,” he added.

The app showcases several notable features including unlimited digital notices, calendar events, and attachments such as student reports, homework assignments, timetables, newsletters, sports scorecards, and updates.

“We have a digital calendar that will notify parents of upcoming events such as sports meets, prize givings, and concerts. It also facilitates sending attachments such as student reports, homework, assignments, timetables, newsletters, and updates,” Silva elaborated.

The other notable feature of the app is its ability to message multiple groups and subgroups of parents. This multilayer communication channel means that the app can either be used, by the principal to message all the parents of that respective school, by a primary head to message the parents of that section, by a class teacher to message the parents of a respective class, or by the school to message an individual parent.

Parents too can use the app to get in touch with the school. However, Silva stated that parent-to-school communication is controlled by the school and only permitted departments can be communicated with.

Taking the current novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis as an example, Silva explained that schools registered with the app began to immediately message parents when the situation escalated. He stated that the schools finally informed parents about the closure through the app and teachers are now using the app to assign their students homework.

He further stated that the app is available for both iOS and Android devices and ensures that only parents registered with the school are given access to its features.

“If you are a parent in a particular school which is one of our clients, all you have to do is download the app. Once you enter your mobile number, you will receive an OTP (one-time password), but only if you are registered with the school. This ensures that not just anyone can download and use the app, and so the school gets controlled security and privacy when it comes to its communications,” he noted.

Silva went on to explain that all this time they have been adding value to their clients and the education sector, and further plan on bringing in scalability as the next step. He stated that since schools are their clients, they wanted to align themselves to what the schools need, and therefore have received positive feedback.

“Now it is time for us to look at taking this solution islandwide because we believe we can add a lot of value to schools across the nation.”

The Talkative Parents app currently boasts over 6,000 active users and even more downloads. It also provides its services to two of the country’s largest schools as well as smaller preschools.

Silva stated that especially during this Covid-19 pandemic, it is reassuring for parents to know that they can communicate with the schools to make inquiries and keep their children’s education going, through homework attachments via the app.

“The biggest problem we see now is the miscommunication that leads to fear, and this is especially the case for parents. Knowing what is going on in your child’s education is important. Therefore, what schools can do in situations such as the one we are facing now is to connect with parents and notify them on what the school is doing and what the school wants the parent to do,” Silva said.

• Localised ‘Talkative Parents’ launched last week



‘Talkative Parents’ digitally bridges the communication gap between schools and parents

‘Talkative Parents’ digitally bridges the communication gap between schools and parents

‘Talkative Parents’ digitally bridges the communication gap between schools and parents

Published by “Ada Derana”, on 26/03/2020:

Leading Technology solutions provider Yara Technologies has officially launched ‘Talkative Parents’, a digital platform which connects educational institutes such as schools and pre-schools with parents. The official launch underpins the next wave of digital transformation in Sri Lanka’s education sector. Talkative Parents has successfully transformed the longstanding school communication/notice book and school calendar into an easy-to-use mobile application. This has resulted in improved school-parent engagement.

Many of today’s schools are faced with challenges in effectively communicating with parents due to the lack of a formal school communication channel, and this pain point is further magnified by the usage of fragmented, unreliable channels such as social media, email, traditional paper-based communication as well as one-way SMS.

Breaking down barriers that have limited school-parent engagement in the past, Talkative Parents has been able to address these issues successfully, and in the process, schools have been able to benefit from cost savings in the form of reduced paper consumption, printing, admin and labour costs.

Commenting about the solution, Yara Technologies Director Chaminda Silva said, “Our key objective is to add value to the education segment by helping schools communicate and engage with parents more effectively in a controlled and secure manner. We are inspired to be a part of this digitisation journey and the opportunity to help bridge the communication gap in Sri Lanka’s education segment. In the next stage, while continuing to ensure complete privacy, we aim to move into data analytics and reporting, to help schools analyse their data and come up with customised solutions.”

A key value proposition of the solution is that communication is completely controlled by the school resulting in effective targeted communication. The platform is a multifaceted system that facilitates:

  • Unlimited digital notices, calendar events and attachments such as student reports, home-work assignments, timetables, newsletters, sports scorecards and updates  via the app
  • Messaging to multiple groups and subgroups of parents (i.e. school/class/individual)
  • A two-way private messaging feature which allows the parent to directly connect with the relevant school department (as permitted  by the school)
  • An events calendar which displays all school-related events and has reminder options which can be synced with the parent’s mobile calendar
  • Messages delivered in real-time with push alerts ensuring timely communication
  • Multi-language messaging
  • Robust onboarding process restricting access to the app only to registered parents of the school
  • SMS gateway

The platform has achieved great success with S. Thomas’ Preparatory School and Bishop’s College Colombo having implemented the platform as their official communication channel. Furthermore, the solution has been rolled out in pre-schools as well. Currently, Talkative Parents has a subscriber base of 6,000 active users.

Commenting on Talkative Parents, S. Thomas’ Preparatory School Headmaster Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo said, “Today we hardly send out paper notices, and thanks to Talkative Parents, we are instantaneously in touch with all parents. The solution has proved to be a blessing. We have been fortunate to have Talkative Parents and the team working with the school. There have been times when there were sudden changes to school life, and we breathed a sigh of relief because the app came to our rescue in contacting parents.”

Sharmila Gunatilleke, Principal at Bishop’s College Colombo, said, “Talkative Parents is a very useful app which allows us to communicate with ease. It is user-friendly and reliable and the tech-support has been very good.”

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