Schools and cell phones
Kaieteur News
April 20, 2007

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Once more, there is a lot of talk of banning cellular phones from the classrooms; and once more, there appears to be supporters and opponents of any ban. The supporters are those who feel that the cellular phones are proving to be unwanted distractions and a source of internet pornography.

The opponents, many of whom are parents of children attending school, claim that the phones are necessary for them to maintain contact with their children.

A few weeks ago, the Education Ministry, following reports that a child used his cellular phone to record a private meeting of teachers at a city school, declared that it was banning these instruments from the schools.

Earlier this week, we learnt that no ban had been effected, and that the Ministry is still to issue a circular making such a ban official. For its part, the Ministry was quick to point out that it has not yet banned the phones.

And while the issue rages, some school heads are taking matters into their own hands by seizing phones in the possession of children and demanding to see the parents. Not so long ago, parents would have rushed to the schools at the invitation of school heads, and even class teachers. Today, there is disrespect, and the parents ignore the request for meetings.

Those who do go to the school invariably seek to justify their children being in possession of the cellular phones. But there have been cases of parents actually taking umbrage at the seizures.

There was a time, not so long ago, when cellular phones were unheard of in this country. Today, the phones appear to be an integral part of a person's accessories. Just about everyone has one, and to forget the phone is akin to forgetting something without which a person cannot exist.

It is true that these days parents need to keep in touch with their children, given the apparent influence to which these children are subjected, but the ability to detect the location of the children is still not possible. Indeed, though, parents do feel better having talked with their children. It matters not that the child may mislead the parent.

What would make us support the ban is the extent to which the children use the phones for illicit purposes. Cellular phones these days are more than a telephone. They are music boxes, video cameras and gaming stations. All of these could be distracting influences, as many a parent has found out.

Children, and even some adults, have been known to spend hours playing the available games. In the workplace, many an employer has had cause to discipline a time-wasting employee caught playing video games on his cellular phone.

More recently, the phones have been used to record pornography, and every adult knows the attraction sex holds for the school child. In Barbados , the authorities recently discovered a pornography ring among schoolchildren.

These children actually recorded each other in various sex acts and distributed the footage.

There was a similar occurrence in Trinidad , and again there was a hue and cry from the adult society. Now some people are reporting that there is a similar development in Guyana .

For this reason alone we would support a ban of cellular phones in schools. Failing that, no one should have a phone turned on in the class. In the National Assembly, no one is allowed to have a cell phone turned on, and if a phone rings, then the culprit owner risks being sanctioned.

It is the same at the Office of the President, for presidential press conferences. In fact, cell phones are left with the security. Perhaps the same should be done in schools. Whatever the case, cell phones should not be allowed in classrooms, and that rule should be effected immediately.