'Smart' uniforms track Chinese students in bid to boost school attendance

BEIJING (AFP) - Schools in southern China are using chip-powered "smart" school uniforms to track their students in a bid to tackle truancy and boost attendance, according to state media.

The uniforms use chips to monitor the location of students and can record their exit and entry into school, according to the tech firm behind the tracking devices.

"When students enter the school, the smart uniforms help take a photo or video of them," explained principal Ran Ruxiang, whose elementary school in Guizhou province started rolling out smart uniforms last November.

More than half of the school's 1,400 students were wearing the smart uniforms, he told AFP.

At least 10 schools in Guizhou and neighbouring Guangxi have adopted the technology, according to a Thursday report by the Global Times.

If students walk out of the school without permission, an automatic voice alarm will activate, the report said.

Paired with facial recognition devices installed on school doors, the smart uniforms can also sense if students swap uniforms.

"We choose not to check the accurate location of students after school, but when the student is missing and skipping classes, the uniforms help locate them," Guizhou province school principal Lin Zongwu told the Global Times.

But so far, it's not clear how effective smart uniforms are at preventing students from playing hooky.

The high-tech uniforms have helped increase the attendance rate, "but not much", according to Ran, who added that the school chose the uniforms mainly as a way to send notifications and homework to students through an app connected to the uniform chips.

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