Cellular phones in schools What the People Say about:
By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
June 24, 2002

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This week we asked the man\woman-in-the-street for their opinions on whether cellular phones should be banned in schools. These were their reactions:

Orin Layne - sign artist: ‘Cell phones have their advantages and disadvantages. In the schools they could be very distracting, both to the student who has the phone as well as to the other students and the teachers. They could disrupt the classes. But the advantages are in cases of emergencies. Parents can contact their children and children can contact their parents. That is why I believe the question of whether they should be banned, is something that should be carefully considered. The advantages should weighed against the disadvantages. Though it is very hard to say they should be banned in schools. Look at September 11, all those people were able to call their loved ones or make contact with the security forces while they were buried under the rubble. Even considering the disadvantages, the cell phones have proven their merit.’

Abigail Smith - student: ‘I think students should be allowed to take cell phones to school, but they shouldn’t be allowed to use them during class hours. In cases of emergency in some schools, you have to pay to make calls, at least in my school that’s the situation. That’s why, at least for emergency use, students should be allowed to carry cell-phones. But they should keep the phones turned off because it disrupts the classroom whenever the phone rings. There are guidelines in place at my school but the students still sneak them in and use them during class hours.’

Gordon Godfrey Jervis - security guard: ‘No. I don’t think the cell phones should be banned. They are a means of communication between the parents and their children in school. But the students should not be allowed to use the [cell] phones during school sessions. If they use them during the breaks, fine. We are advancing and the cell phones are just one of the scientific phenomena which we are adapting to.’

Onassis Dillon - musician: `I think something should be done about children taking cell phones to school. The phones should be banned. When I went to school we did fine without them. Long ago when there were emergencies, the school called the parent and the parents came to the school. The cell phones have become one of the many distractions in the schools. The students can no longer focus on their education.’

Malika Greene - UG student: `I think cell phones should be banned, at least from in the classroom. They make it very difficult to concentrate. In the University of Guyana you are not allowed carry them in during classes and examinations, but many people still do and it’s distracting when they ring. It breaks our concentration. And the students at the University are young adults as compared to those in the high schools. The high school students should only be allowed to carry them for emergency purposes, like when parents want to make contact with their children.’

Claudia Lewis - student: ‘I think that students should be allowed to carry cellular phones to school. In Queen’s College, in cases of emergencies it’s difficult to use the telephone in the office. The students are usually lined up outside of the office, waiting to make calls. We have had bomb scares at school and afterwards, it was hard for students to make contact with their parents. If we are allowed to carry cell phones, we can make fast and direct contact with our parents. But personally, I do feel though, there should be some guidelines to regulate the use in schools. Sitting in a classroom and having somebody’s phone ring, is a big distraction.’

Gary Thomas - sculptor: `Many parents give their children cell phones for different reasons. Some for fun. Some for security. The truth is, the cell phones are just as bad as they are good. Some might use them just for fun or personal calls and others use them for emergencies. Especially in emergency situations, parents can contact their children. Look at the high crime rate in the country now, you need to keep in contact with your loved ones. If I could afford a cell phone I would give one to my wife for her to carry to work.’

Haimchand Persaud - businessman: ‘No, they shouldn’t be banned. But they should not be used during class hours. They can be used during their break or lunch period. Otherwise, they should only be used in times of emergency, which are rare. But there might be a situation where there is a sick grandmother at home and both parents work. During situations of that kind, they should be allowed to use them: only in the extreme cases. And at the teacher’s discretion. Also, look at various other countries across Europe, in North America and even here in the Caribbean, the same way in which students carry their laptops and CD players and would not be allowed to use them during class hours, they should be allowed to carry the cell-phones.’

Shevonne Dharamjeet - student: `I don’t believe they should be banned. If there is an emergency and you need to get hold of your parents or your guardian, that would be the fastest means of communication. But I will admit that there should be some guidelines or rules put in place because some people will try to take advantage of the situation, like using the phones for their personal use. The phones should strictly be used for emergency situations, because otherwise they just become distractions from studying and concentration.’

Pat Rodney - soldier: ‘I believe they should be banned, because students there to learn, should not have those distractions. That is what they become, distractions. Distractions which will make them pay less attention to their schoolwork. They are not there to make calls, they are there to learn. The schools have phones, so in case of an emergency the schools can get on to the parents.’

Rhonda Daniels - real estate broker: `In all honesty, yes. They should be banned. They are children: What possible reasons could parents have for wanting their children using cell phones in school. The schools all have phones, the children can use those to contact their parents or homes in emergency situations. There are no legitimate reasons for them having the phones in the school, therefore the phones should be banned.’