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Japan to Introduce Avatars for Students to Reduce Truancy

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Photo: The Kumamoto City Education Bureau in southwestern Japan is set to combat truancy in schools by employing avatars that allow students. Source: Collage The Gaze.
Photo: The Kumamoto City Education Bureau in southwestern Japan is set to combat truancy in schools by employing avatars that allow students. Source: Collage The Gaze.

The Kumamoto City Education Bureau in southwestern Japan is set to combat truancy in schools by employing avatars that allow students to remotely participate in classes and school activities.

This was reported by Mainichi.

The robots are equipped with microphones, speakers, and cameras to facilitate two-way communication. The aim is to alleviate concerns about absenteeism among students planning to return to classrooms.

The associated costs of approximately 1.55 million yen (approximately $10,550) have been included in the supplementary budget for the 2023 fiscal year. The idea may be implemented as early as November of this year, with plans to assess the program's results through March of the following year.

The initiative plans to include two self-moving robots standing at about 1 meter in height. Students at home can operate the robots from their laptops, enabling them to attend the same lessons as their peers and engage in discussions with classmates and teachers. The robots are also expected to have the freedom to move around the school premises and even participate in events.

According to the commission, in the 2022 academic year, 2,760 elementary and junior high school students in the city did not attend classes. This has been happening for the fourth consecutive year, as 1,283 truancies were recorded in the 2018 academic year.

For this reason, the education administration reached out to the information and communication technology sector in search of solutions. Specifically, this included teacher assistants who helped broadcast classes online for truant children, initiating a "virtual classroom" in January. It is reported that the system received positive feedback from students, including statements like, "It reduced my anxiety about communication" and "My self-esteem improved."

The Education Bureau hopes that this can help reduce mental barriers to truancy.

As previously reported by The Gaze, two Boston Dynamics robots, known as Spot, played a crucial role in decommissioning the Dounreay nuclear station in Scotland.

The nuclear facility in Scotland had been closed for 25 years, and Spot robots played a vital role in conducting research in the radioactive area during its final shutdown.

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