No Cell Phones in Schools
April 21, 2007
In the interest of bringing back discipline and maximising learning time, students found using cellular phones during class sessions and student assembly, as well as those who leave classes to use the phones, would be suspended for at least three days in the first instance.
Education Minister Shaik Baksh announced this prohibition yesterday, simultaneous with the distribution of corresponding circulars to schools nationwide.
He said that the decision was made following consultations between the Education Ministry and school heads in the city.
Minister Baksh said that the Education Ministry is using this measure in keeping with its mandate to ensure that all learners benefit from the maximum instructional time allocated for each school day.
The Minister said that “no cell phones are allowed in examination centres/rooms and marking centres. If this is breached the candidates shall be disqualified from the examinations and serious disciplinary action will be taken against the chief invigilator.
In the face of reports of there being high incidents of cellular phone losses in schools the Minister said that, based on the agreements reached with heads, the school shall not be held responsible for any loss, theft, or damage to any cell phone or any such gadget.
The circular, signed by Chief Education Officer (ag), Genevieve Whyte-Nedd, encourages school heads to conspicuously display the ‘no cell usage' signs in strategic areas of their institution.
“All members of staff are advised to lead by example by observing the rule outlined…” the circular stated. “We are going to implement this for a period of two school terms and then review the question of prohibition of cell phones in schools and whether more stringent measures should be taken.” Minister Baksh said.
Other options included the total prohibition of cellular phones in schools or the prohibition of the use of the device during school hours.
The Minister urged parents to exercise control and to take action to encourage observance of the rules. Responding to claims of parents wanting to contact their children while they are at school, Minister Baksh advised that they do so before class commences, during the break periods or after the school day is concluded.
“Already too many hours are lost and this is part of efforts to have the children get the full delivery of education and better results are achieved at the end of the day.”
Responding to queries about the implications of internet/pornography access in schools the minister said, “Each school will be allowed to ensure, through the implementation of programmes, that methods are put in place to teach about the dysfunctional effects of cellular use for other purposes….some schools are aware of that.”
Meanwhile, the Education and Health Ministries are to collaborate with UNICEF to shortly embark on an education programme on schools being designated ‘no smoking' zones before the commencement of the new school year.
“This would apply to educators, school administrators, parents and students,” Minister Baksh said.