Four schools in Ahmedabad associated with Udgam Consultancy have decided to do away with the messaging app WhatsApp for online teaching due to “data security concerns”.

Udgam School For Children (USFC) Thaltej, Zebar School For Children (ZSFC) Thaltej, Satellite School For Children (SSFC), and Bodakdev School For Children (BFSC) have switched over to the Microsoft Kaizala. Parents have been informed through e-mails on Tuesday and asked to download the app and get started.

The four schools have around 243 different WhatsApp groups and close to 13,700 parents actively using this messaging platform, majorly run as ‘only admin can post’ groups.

Manan Choksi, Executive Director, Udgam School For Children said, “This popular app has now made it mandatory to accept new privacy norms. WhatsApp’s biggest problem is the lack of trust with its users since parent company Facebook faces severe criticism around the world with regards to privacy practices.”

Another issue felt by the schools using WhatsApp was the easy access of these school-parent WhatsApp groups by children, Choksi said adding that the decision to shift from WhatsApp to Microsoft Kaizala is also motivated by the fact that it does not rely on advertisement for survival and is committed to protecting data privacy and security.

Teachers, staff members and parents of the schools have been asked to take the backup of their data and install the ‘Microsoft Kaizala’ app which is available on iOS and Android platforms for free. A team of experts has been formed to assist the users.

Elaborating features of the app, Dr Vinnie Jauhari, director, education advocacy, Microsoft India said, “Kaizala is a phone number-based app and supports and end-to-end encryption of all the chats, whether private or in groups.”

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