Schools in China have created uniforms with tracking chips to monitor students’ whereabouts and stop them playing truant.
The so-called “smart uniforms”, which have been criticised on social media, record the time and date a student enters the school and a short video parents can see through a mobile app.
Eleven schools in the southwest province of Guizhou have introduced the uniforms, developed by local tech firm Guizhou Guanyu Technology.
Skiving off classes triggers an alarm to notify both teachers and parents of the student’s absence and an automatic voice alarm is activated if a student leaves school without permission.
If a student falls asleep in class, alarms will sound, and parents will be able to keep tabs on the purchases their child makes at the school and use a mobile app to set spending limits, according to the firm’s website.
A GPS system also tracks student movements even once they have left the school premises.
But Yuan Bichang, the company’s project manager, said the school would only use the tracking beyond school hours if a pupil were to go missing.
Mr Bichang told state media Global Times that attendance had gone up since the uniforms had been introduced.
He said the two chips, which are installed in each uniform’s shoulders, are able to withstand up to 500 washes and 150C.
Facial recognition makes sure each uniform is worn by its correct owner to stop students tricking the system and swapping uniforms.
The company released a public statement through popular Chinese social media site Weibo saying the uniforms “focus on safety issues”, and provide a “smart management method” that is advantageous to students, parents and teachers.
The uniforms have been criticised on social media. “If you were a child, would you like to be monitored 24 hours a day?” one Weibo user asked.
“Don’t children have human rights and privacy?” added another user.
Lin Zongwu, principal of Number 11 School of Renhuai in Guizhou, said despite the fact the school was able to track students at all times, they used this technology sparingly.
“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,” Mr Lin said.
Guanyu Technology defended itself from criticism on Weibo – insisting the firm did “respect and protect human rights”.
“The smart uniform does not track students’ every single move all the time,” the company said.
The development company said the uniforms were designed to “fully implement the state policy of actively constructing smart campuses and smart education management for the development of education”.
This is not the first time China has employed technology to monitor students at school. In May, it was revealed a school in Hangzhou had installed cameras in order to measure students’ attentiveness in class.