Since 2021, Waliku is both a Save the Children technical team and a set of tools for student education and wellbeing management. Any Save the Children or development partner project can utilize the Waliku team’s products and services to meet their data requirements for better project and school-level decision making.
Waliku’s journey commenced as an innovative idea by Save the Children in 2017, followed by a proof-of-concept study and pilot project in West Sumba, Indonesia during 2018-2020. During this period, the Waliku team learned many lessons that helped define its product and service offering.
First that digital technology should be immediately relevant to the end user and should simplify their work. Waliku designed its user interface for the needs of the Indonesian teachers and administrators, and reduced their workload with attendance reports by using their formats and automating the process. As a result, daily usage of Waliku was 81% across 21 pilot schools in its second year.
Second, that data from the digital tool should provide insights that inspires users to consistently use the solution. Waliku provides school administrators and teachers with immediate information on chronic and severe chronic absentees, which they can use for their follow up with individual students at risk of dropout.
Third, that tools that can be used as modules better meet the specific needs of school-communities. As a result, our solutions now differentiate to include Waliku Class (student absence management), Waliku Admin (school administration), Waliku Assess (school clinic assessments), Waliku Clinic (community clinics) and Waliku Dashboard (district and project monitoring).
Lastly, that preferred tools and technology and customizations should be considered when scoping the needs of school-communities. As a result, the Waliku team has started to add many configurable features in its tools. The application is now multi-lingual, and simpler technology such as automated phone calls and SMS, and Excel can be used with Waliku to capture student data. Also, we do not limit our support to Waliku products alone. We provide implementation guidance to projects that may choose to use other digital products. Two examples of this include our support to Open EMIS pilots in Lebanon and Colombia.
Waliku has become an important part of safe return to schools. Global guidelines recommend digital tools for schools and local school districts to readily recognise re-enrolment levels and track attendance till to ensure students are returning to school.
In Indonesia, the scale-up continues in West Sumba, as another Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is signed with the district education office to use Waliku in all primary schools in its six subdistricts over the next two years. At the same time, Waliku will also be used in junior high schools in Bandung district, West Java. This is to capture the remote online learning that is taking place across schools, and to identify those students who are unable to attend online lessons due to barriers of access to digital devices or network connectivity and provide them with print materials.
Waliku’s expanding outreach can be attributed to the realisation of the importance of understanding and following up on student absences. Save the Children will soon introduce Waliku in its Catch Up Clubs in Uganda. These clubs are community learning spaces for children of primary school-age to catch up on their literacy skills. Community facilitators will run daily sessions for a period of 10-13 weeks and use Waliku to assess reading levels as well as track attendance of children.
In Guatemala, attendance is a key metric for Save the Children’s food for education project which reaches many thousands of children across several municipalities for cooked meals and food rations during COVID. With generous giving by an individual philanthropist, the Waliku team is able to support the Guatemala project to digitize its attendance taking process for over 8000 children. Using Waliku will help the project identify if the food intervention is maintaining student engagement.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is supporting our Waliku journey since 2020, in recognition of our expertise in working across education and health sectors to address student absenteeism and wellbeing. We are contracted by the ADB’s regional Human and Social Development department to support the digitization of Indonesian schools and links with community clinics in their service for children. In December 2020, we conducted a formative assessment to understand the data generated by schools and community clinics on student wellbeing; the data access needs of each of these entities and the potential areas for digital data sharing. The objective of this exercise was to strengthen the communication among these entities in relation to their goal of ensuring students’ wellbeing. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, more than ever, coordination between schools and clinics is important since they depend on each other for data for disease surveillance, prevention and control efforts. Closer communication and coordination are also important for building trust with parents and communities on the safety measures in place as children return to school.
Subsequently, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the West Sumba Education Office, the Health Office, the Covid-19 Task Force represented by the Regional Disaster Management Agency, the Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Service and Save the Children to build an integrated data system for school age children. To this aim, we have developed Waliku Assess and Waliku Clinic through a series of user-centered design consultations with school teachers, staff and community clinic nurses and school health focal points over two months.
As they return to school, a simple tool is needed to screen students (and staff) for COVID-19 and other sicknesses and triage those who are potentially very sick for immediate first aid and referral to the local clinic. Waliku Assess assists a school nurse or health focal point in this screening and referral. The local clinic also needs a portal to receive this referral information in near real-time and update it once assessments and treatments are prescribed. Waliku clinic is a portal on school-age children that assists clinic staff to respond to referrals and also proactively plan health interventions with schools. These tools are being introduced in schools in August 2021.
Schools in Sumba Barat have been closed since March and students have stayed home during this time. With COVID-19 protocols in place, schools in 'green zones' will be reopening in the second week of September. There are plans for a rotating system for students to come to school, in order to avoid having a full class or school during the initial days after reopening. Schools are ensuring hand washing spots and cleaning routines for classrooms.
For the past month, the Waliku team has been gearing up for the reopening of schools by preparing various training materials, including video tutorials of the updated Waliku mobile and web application.
On 18th August, we commenced a five-day training webinar with IT operators and principals from 21 schools in Wanokaka and Waikabubak that were already using Waliku. They were first trained on child safeguarding and data security/ privacy protocols in order to better their understanding of safely interacting with children. Then, they were introduced to the main features of the updated Waliku mobile and web application. Lastly they were provided a half day orientation on first aid in schools.
Participants were enthusiastic about the new features of the apps and could not wait to start practicing their newly learned skills. They practiced the apps with each other as a means of preparing for the next level of training to teachers. We are truly heartened by the willingness of school administrators to learn and play an active role in adopting technology as a means of ensuring the well-being of children under their care.
The Waliku is truly a product co-created with its users. We have updated Waliku by taking user-stories and feedback gathered from schools and the district office and turning their problems into opportunities.
Teacher attendance is closely related to student motivation to come to school, and hence identified by school and district administrators as equally important to monitor. Given this need, an updated feature in Waliku is staff attendance.
Reports are organised by school requirements for daily, weekly, monthly and year-to-date recapitulations. Absence rates are displayed for the whole school, as well as for individual classes and students, so that schools can look at the summary view as well as deep dive to understand the data. Monthly reports are in a format that schools already use, and new metrics provide information on students who are chronically absent, and who have dropped out.
In Sumba, teachers are required to do a home visit if a child has been absent for three or more days. This often poses a challenge due to constraints of distance, time and resources. The updated Waliku provides teachers with an absence follow-up tool that they can easily administer, on the phone or in person. The tool collects the main reason and complaints of the child and based on it, prompts them to advice parents on ways of caring for their child. For example, when a child is absent due to a fever and cough, the app prompts the teacher to advice fever and cough management, and a clinic visit if needed.
Schools will start using the updated Waliku in this academic year, in September, once they reopen from COVID-19 closures.
Waliku is one of the programming options for absence management systems in the Safe Back to School practitioners guide.
Save the Children, together with other agencies of the Global Education Cluster Strategic Advisory Group, has developed a Safe Back to School practitioners guide which aims to provide guidance to program teams on how to plan an integrated, participatory process for safe school reopening applicable in all contexts across the humanitarian-development nexus. The guide has been developed in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic which led to many school closures and offers a unique multi-sectoral opportunity for governments and school communities to build back better and strengthen the resilience of their education systems. The guide builds on the UN Framework for Reopening Schools, and provides concrete actions that can be taken to operationalise these global policy recommendations.
As schools reopen or start a new academic year, it is vital schools have the necessary tools to monitor students’ return. Tracking students’ attendance and absence in order to better inform programmatic decisions, notably around child protection and health, will help to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 school closures. This is especially since the Waliku system records causes of absenteeism, which can be integrated with health and protection monitoring and response teams.
This article was originally published on Save the Children's Resource Centre.
Since the threats of a global pandemic, and now that it is a reality, Waliku has been in active communication with our school-community partners about COVID-19. Through our established WhatsApp groups with school administrators, teachers and the district education office, we have been conveying important messages and latest information about the disease from the WHO, the Indonesian Government and other trusted sources. School administrators and teachers, using their Waliku phones and free credits are communicating with school-families about important preventive hand- and respiratory- hygiene measures, social distancing and illness prevention and control.
Sumba Barat schools have been closed since 23rd March 2020. While this public health measure has been disruptive, the local government and its partners from NGOs and civil society are doing everything to mitigate its effects on children's learning and well-being.
After a year of Waliku’s proof-of-concept in Sumba, Indonesia, our team found the need to further customize Waliku. In developing version 2 of the Waliku system, we are turning to human-centered design to achieve our goals. We empathized with the users, mainly teachers, the school administration and the district education office, then we analysed their needs and found opportunities to integrate Waliku more with their daily needs.
Currently, we are in the midst of prototyping our Version 2 solution which will provide enhanced tools for schools to manage school absenteeism and their reasons. On the 9th of March, we organised a workshop to gather inputs and feedback from school teachers, principals and IT operators on Version 2 mock ups. Their enthusiasm showed, as they gave their opinions readily during the workshop through various design games and activities as well as through a digital survey.