To ban or not to ban: Should mobile phones be allowed in schools?

This article is a mirror of an article by BBC on 20 June 2018 about the use of mobile phones by students in schools.

When BBC wrote that story, they outlined that one reason given by school authorities is “The reason we wanted to ban them (mobile phones) originally is there were lots of little things going on in school during the day that we didn’t like – some in lessons, and some out of lessons”.

Fast forward to Vanuatu in October 2018, where one female student left home for school, which is about 3 kilometers away, and ended up dying in a place, 1 kilometer away from her school does say a lot as she was assumed to have communicated with someone who took her there.

After the killing of the student, questions were raised on social media as to how she got to where she died and also who was with her when she got on the bus that took her there.

Most of the time, students move around by communicating with each other or to other various people of interest to them and most parents feel more comfortable with their children having a mobile phone as a means of communication, however, the ugly side of the mobile phone when in a students hands is also a major worry.

An image supplied to YTS News of a student sitting in class watching porn does raise serious questions as to whether mobile phones are contributing to a child’s wellbeing or doing the opposite?

The BBC report state that one school said “We believe that one of the things you do in schools is give children the skills for adult life – and one of the things adults have to know is how to manage and moderate their mobile phone use”.

“Our policy is that mobile phones are allowed until they become a nuisance and then if they get in the way of learning we confiscate them.”

In Vanuatu, back in January 2018, schools did make an effort to get tough on mobile phone use by students, however, it is not known as to whether schools still keep implementing their mobile phone use rules or have totally abandoned the effort to control its use in schools.

A bus driver, Tom Alick, from Pamma says ‘The use of mobile phones by students has tremendously increased and it is visible when transporting students to and from schools”.

The driver continued that “students have been more involved in various activities on mobiles other than communications, and at times, do not realize what they are getting involved in till it is too late”.

YTS has witnessed through various post online that students have become very vulnerable to mobile phone porn and are sometimes tricked into doing something not knowing it is going to be posted online.

A parent in Port Vila, (does not want to be named) whose son appeared on a mobile video porn said “Ultimately a lot of students have become victims of malicious mobile phone recordings and unsupervised use of mobile phones in and out of school also contributes to influence students in a lot of different ways”.

Should the Ministry of Education ban mobile phones in schools throughout Vanuatu is a question worth asking and should the Ministry of Education be more active and provide schools with appropriate guidelines on a mobile phone when used in school is another question?

In the BBC report, one professor says “schools have an important role in helping pupils learn when to use their phones”.

He says: “If school and education is about preparing us for that world, then learning how to use your mobile phone – when it’s appropriate when it’s not appropriate, is a very important part of that”.

“Children need to learn to self-regulate. They’re not being given the opportunity to do that if their phones are taken away at the start of the day.”

A former teacher from Ambae commented, “With a mobile phone, students can learn and know more about the world but the experience also at times comes with a cost and no matter the good side, given the ability to communicate, mobile phone use in Vanuatu schools need to be regulated until further notice given the current risk involved”.

The Ministry of Education has confirmed, “a lot of schools in Vanuatu have different policies regarding mobile phones and do have restrictions in place and these schools are very strict about mobile phone use”.

Given the strict rules and how students are able to get away with mobile phone use, it is obvious that the Ministry of Education must step in with a policy to control the use of mobile phones by students whilst in school as there are some “little things” as identified by BBC in schools in the UK, that is also happening in Vanuatu schools and tend to become “big things” by end of most school days.

To ban or not to ban is the question.