Vice President meets with “Raise Your Text” regarding teacher absenteeism

FSM Information Services

October 19th, 2018

The Honorable Yosiwo P. George, Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), along with Secretary Kalwin Kephas, Consultant Vishnu Karki, and Chief of Basic Education Wayne Mendiola of the FSM Department of Education including Special Assistant to the Office of the President, Mr. Herman Semes Jr, met with the Raise Your Text team on October 19th, 2018 to discuss an ongoing project concerning teacher absenteeism in FSM schools. “This is an important issue,” said Vice President Yosiwo George, “I’m interested to see if this tool is effective.”

Raise Your Text is a startup company whose primary product is a community development platform that reduces teacher absenteeism through an anonymous accountability model via mobile phones and email. Through a memorandum of understanding with Pohnpei Department of Education, Raise Your Text has been conducting a pilot of its program in Pohnpei schools which has—so far—seen statistically interesting results, where in elementary schools for example ~96.8% of Raise Your Text teachers have been present in the classroom compared with ~91.4% of non-pilot program teachers in all schools. At pilot elementary schools specifically, the attendance rates are 98.6% for pilot teachers versus 96.8% of non-pilot teachers at pilot schools. For all low accredited schools the rate Raise Your Text pilot teachers were present was 98% of the time, compared to 85.7% for non-pilot teachers. The first data report covers the first five weeks of the academic year.

Presently funded exclusively by D-Prize through an entrepreneurial grant, their pilot will end on November 2nd and their funding will cease by December 1st.

“When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer at Salapwuk,” said Raise Your Text CEO Nicholas Canfield, “I’d see students walk five or six miles in the morning only to have no teacher at the school, and to be told to go home. I want today’s students to have a voice in their education, and for communities to become energized about this issue.”

“We,” said Richard Clark—Chief Development Officer of Raise Your Text, and an adviser at the Pohnpei Department of Education—“released our five-week data report two weeks ago, and we’ll have another data report at the conclusion of the pilot. So far the data is promising, but the issue is that our datasets and timelines are too small to show statistically strong as opposed to merely interesting results. What we want to do is determine if we can get additional funding through the FSM National Government, so we can extend the pilot period in Pohnpei to the end of the academic year. By getting more data, we can determine if Raise Your Text is genuinely effective; and, if it is effective, then we see if the FSM wants to expand it throughout the rest of Pohnpei DOE and the other FSM State DOEs.”

“It would be exciting to see if we can implement this in the FSM National Government itself,” said Special Assistant Herman Semes Jr, “at least to give us the data for leadership to see how absenteeism may have an impact on performance and cost to the National Government.” Such information may be very useful for our leaders to know.