Both interventions will offer parents the possibility of receiving weekly text-messages to encourage students' attendance to school, but they will differ in the information presented. Schools assigned to the treatment group will be offered the intervention in all primary-school grades (i.e., grades 1 to 7) to allow us to later examine treatment heterogeneity by grade.
All experimental groups will receive a "test message" early in the 2021 school year. This message will serve two purposes: (a) it will allow us to identify invalid cell-phone numbers, so that we can let schools know the names of students whose contact information needs to be updated; and (b) it will allow parents to opt out of the program (using a default "opt in").
In the control group, the parents of children who have been absent on a given week will not receive any text messages. The objective of including this group is to understand how the effect of each of the interventions described below compares to that of a ``business-as-usual'' condition, in which parents do not receive any direct communication from schools, but are in theory able to log into the online portal of the province to check their children's absences.
In the total absences (T1) group, the parents of children who have been absent on a given week will receive a text message informing them of their child's absences that week and the absences accumulated during the school year. The objective of this intervention is to understand whether student absenteeism is due to a lack of awareness among parents about the number of schooldays missed by their children, and if so, whether conveying information about absences can raise awareness and lead parents to take steps to reduce their children's absences.
In the reminder (T2) group, the parents of children who have been absent on a given week will receive a text message informing them of the consequences of student absenteeism, and conversely, of the importance of regular attendance to school. The objective of this intervention is to understand whether student absenteeism is due to a low salience of the importance of regular school attendance among parents, and if so, whether simply reminding them of that importance can raise its salience and lead parents to take steps to reduce their children's absences.