Saudi innovator designs ‘smart’ school bag

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Thirty-one-year-old Saudi Khalid al Jabal has come up with an innovative approach to education.

He has designed a comprehensive and compact system contained in a “Smart Bag”, which he says will make students’, parents’ and teachers’ lives easier.

“This Smart Bag is part of the system. The system contains special software specific to the teacher, programs for school administration, programs. for guardians. There is a program for centralized management, which is the Ministry of Education. These programs combined represent the project for the Smart Bag and school electronic system,” al Jabal said.

The Smart Bag is a small backpack weighing 1.5 kilograms and containing a tablet computer. This device contains the system’s educational program and connects the teacher, students and parents or guardians to one network.

“At home, the student can communicate with the teacher in a simple and easy way. There is a forum for each lesson (a session on the internet). This is a forum for communication between the teacher and the students. If there is a question from a student, he can ask it in the forum and when the teacher answers everyone will benefit,” al Jabal said.

Parents will also be able to track their children’s whereabouts through use of the “Smart Bag” system.

Part of the system involves setting up a network which includes electronic gates. When children pass through these gates at schools, a text message is sent to the parents or guardians. Parents may opt in or out of this service.

“With this system, the guardian doesn’t need to visit the school, because he gets a daily report which enables him to see the times of entry and exit of his child to and from school, and he also can see the child’s academic and behavioural progress,” al Jabal said.

And if in trouble, students also have the option of pressing a button on their tablet to alert teachers and parents of their situation.

A representative of one prospective investor in the system was impressed with the innovation.

“It’s a beautiful invention; it is a qualitative leap and is very impressive. I hope it will be adopted by our Saudi schools,” said Shaheen Shaheen, a representative of a Saudi businessman who al Jabal is trying to start a partnership with.

Al Jabal says having educational material on a tablet will save children from lugging heavy text books to and from their schools.

“Our children are suffering from carrying backpacks weighing 15-20 kilograms and we are forced to carry the bags for them, so we are suffering too. We hope that one day our children’s schools will adopt this clever idea (the smart bag,) and we can keep tabs on their comings and goings from school without having to suffer from heavy weights,” said Amjad Johar, a student’s father.

A school in al Jabal’s home city of Jawf has agreed to buy 500 Smart Bags and implement the system in its classrooms. Al Jabal hopes many more Saudi schools will sign up to buy his innovation.

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