Schools to allow in-class robot avatars of pupils to battle truancy

Schools to allow in-class robot avatars of pupils to battle truancy
The education board of the Japanese city of Kumamoto wants to tackle school absenteeism using in-class robot avatars that allow students to engage remotely in classes and school life.

A report by the Mainichi newspaper explains the robots are equipped with microphones, speakers and cameras to allow for two-way communication. The aim is to reduce anxiety for absentee children and pupils planning to return to the classroom.

Related expenses of 1.55 million yen (approx. $10,550) were included in the supplementary budget bill for fiscal 2023 submitted at a regular meeting of the municipal assembly on Sept. 4. The idea could be set in motion as early as this November, with plans to evaluate the program's results by next March.

Two self-propelling robots around 1 metre in height are part of this initiative. Tablet computers attached to the robots can be controlled from laptops at the students' homes, allowing them to attend the same classes as their fellow students and partake in discussions with classmates and teachers. It is also expected for the robots to be allowed to move freely within the school grounds and even participate in events.

Rising numbers of absentee students are behind the board's decision to adopt the measure. According to the board, 2,760 students at elementary and junior high schools within the city were not attending classes in the 2022 academic year, the fourth straight year of increases since 1,283 absentees were counted in the 2018 school year.



image: VesnaArt/

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