The tracking system will be demonstrated to officials from ROP, the Ministry of Education and several schools at an event to be held at The Sultan's School on April 30.
Under this system, children can be made to carry passive tags which respond to readers installed at several places and have a range of 25ft. Parents and school authorities are alerted at various instances, such as upon the child’s arrival at or departure from school, and before he is picked up or dropped off.
Shiv Gupta, director of operations, Muscat International, said, “These readers can be set up at school entry and exit points. This system is completely automatic and helps parents and school authorities know whereabouts of students at all times, be it at school or in school buses fitted with a reader and GPRS system,” he said. A school with 500 students could introduce this system at a cost of RO3 to RO4 per child, he added.
Parents’ opinions divided
Alpesh Thakkar, father of a six year old Indian School Seeb student, said, “This technology is quite useful in today's world. I urge schools and transport companies to utilise it as it makes tracking children very easy. There has been kidnapping attempts recently, and last year a child forgotten inside a bus died of asphyxiation. We start calling the school or the transport company in worry even if there is a delay of five minutes due to traffic. So I believe this system will give us peace of mind. It's like an extra safety valve.”
Meanwhile, another parent who wished to remain anonymous said he is against this system and wouldn't send his daughter to a nursery that uses such security measures.
“I find the system scary. Oman is the safest country I've been to and I'm against those trying to profit from people's fears. Today, it's RFID tags on our children, tomorrow, they'll say there are too many car thefts and make drivers use RFID. Then, we'll be monitored at our workplaces and gradually lose our privacy and freedom."
“It may so happen that all the private information that is gathered by these systems will be sold to the highest bidder - to be used for advertising. These systems create an atmosphere of mistrust and fear. Putting tags on people is dehumanising.”
Features of the system
An alert is sent to parents and in some cases to the school when the child...
Arrives at or departs from school
Is about to be picked up/dropped off by the school bus
Leaves school at an unusual time
Is dropped off at the wrong place or misses his stop
Is left alone on the bus
Through this system...
Safety alert can be sent to the administrator if a bus stops for unusual period of time
Auto attendance for staff can be made available
Only authorised visitors can enter school premises
Automated library with RFIC stickers on books can be availed