Mobile linking helps unearth ghost students in Tamil Nadu

According to sources, of the 1.16 crore phone numbers linked, 55.35 lakh were mapped to single students, 23.5 lakh to two students and 3.23 lakh to three students.
The ghost entries have occurred despite the department requiring headmasters and teachers to verify phone numbers via a one-time password (OTP) to ensure that they are authentic.
The ghost entries have occurred despite the department requiring headmasters and teachers to verify phone numbers via a one-time password (OTP) to ensure that they are authentic.Express illustration

CHENNAI: It has been more than a month since the school education department initiated a project to link phone numbers of parents with the Education Information Management System (EMIS) portal to make the data comprehensive and accurate. The process has, however, helped the department identify potential ghost entries as around 60,000 phone numbers have four or more students linked to each. Shockingly, one particular phone number was linked to a record 1,240 students in the state.

“It is rare for parents to have more than three kids nowadays. We suspect that schools are creating ghost entries to inflate student numbers since educational grants and allocation of teachers are tied to student strength in aided schools. Most of these entries are likely to be from such institutions. This means we have to verify the authenticity of more than 20 to 30 lakh phone numbers again,” said an official from the School Education Department. The department plans to provide this data to the chief educational officers in each district so that they can talk to the headmasters of the schools involved and remove the ghost entries.

According to sources, of the 1.16 crore phone numbers linked, 55.35 lakh were mapped to single students, 23.5 lakh to two students and 3.23 lakh to three students. Additionally, 39,258 phone numbers were mapped to four students, 8,377 to five students and 11,436 to six students. The ghost entries have occurred despite the department requiring headmasters and teachers to verify phone numbers via a one-time password (OTP) to ensure that they are authentic.

“We are analysing the data and will review entries where one phone number is linked to more than two to three students. The EMIS portal will now include Aadhaar details of students or parents and their phone numbers, enhancing our ability to reach them. This is a major initiative to improve the data of the students available with us and the process will conclude in a month,” stated J Kumaragurubaran, School Education Department Secretary.

Once the numbers are linked, the School Education Department plans to send information such as attendance records, exam results, and updates on various initiatives to parents via WhatsApp. This will be facilitated by signing a memorandum of understanding with the messaging application.

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