Australian School SMS communication and attendance systems leader MGM Wireless today announced that the New Zealand Ministry of Education has awarded the company preferred supplier status for the provision of SMS attendance improvement systems to secondary schools.
The New Zealand Government has made available $NZ 1.4mill to eligible schools to give them the ability to implement and operate the systems from a preferred supplier.
In MGM’s case, Government funding will cover 100% of the schools’ implementation and operational costs for the first year of operation. MGM is the only non New Zealand Company, and one of only three companies to be awarded the preferred status.
The NZ government is acting on its election promise to get tough on truancy. The government passed legislation last year under urgency making it easier for parents of persistent truants to be fined, and ordered an urgent investigation into truancy levels.
However, a Ministry of Education survey released in March showed truancy rates remain almost unchanged from 2006, with 4.2% of New Zealand's 750,000 students cutting classes every day. In response, the Government announced an additional $NZ 4 mill a year to tackle the problem, as well as one-off funding of $NZ 1.5 mill to get long-term truants enrolled in schools.
The funding is designed to encourage schools to implement programs such as SMS / Text early notification systems, that automatically send text messages to parents when students are absent without explanation.
In Australia, MGM invented and pioneered the use of this communication technology as part of an overall solution, which has been demonstrated to be highly effective towards improving student attendance, welfare and safety.
In 2008, after a worldwide search, the MGM system was adopted by the Western Australian Department of Education for all government schools, and in 2009, the Sydney Region of NSW Education followed. The company has a further 18 schools using its systems in the USA.
The MGM attendance improvement solutions engage parents by creating a triangle of communication, and management with caregivers, the school and the pupil – a best practice and essential starting point from a school’s point of view. Student Attendance rates are seen as a key leading indicator as to how a school is performing. In Australia, the myschool web site launched by the Federal Government last year publishes student attendance rates for every school to provide feedback to parents on the performance of their child’s school.
Regular truancy can lead to negative outcomes limiting a student’s ability to reach their full life potential. In extreme cases, truancy can in later life lead to violence, substance abuse or unemployment. Truants that regularly miss school can end up in youth courts or prisons.
"The MGM board is delighted with this decision by the New Zealand Government, and we look forward to working closely with the Ministry,” MGM CEO Mr Fortunatow said. “MGM will commence the rollout in June utilising a senior executive with long-standing links with New Zealand and build on the small business we had established some years back. We intend to put our best foot forward on this in order to fully support the Government’s truancy initiative.”