Govt reconsidering cellphone ban

Minister of Education Ronald Jones believes current policy governing cellphone use in schools is contradictory since it suggests one set of rules for teachers and another for students.

Speaking at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College today, Jones gave his biggest hint to date that the present ban on cellphone use among students may soon be lifted.

Minister of Education Ronald Jones
Minister of Education Ronald Jones

“I can see photos and videos of a class or classes and teachers on their cellphones in front of the children . . . . That is the contradiction of our reality,” said Jones, while arguing that in a rapidly changing technological era “we can’t shut children away from technology use and particularly that for educational use.

“If we look at how it is used sometimes we would say, ‘we can’t do it’, but it would take a whole day to go through every bag in every school searching for a cellphone or some other piece of technology,” Jones added.

He also asked: “Am I going to put the laptop out of school? They have all of the apps and software that you can find on a smartphone . . . every single thing that you can find is in the computer, the laptop, the iPad or tablets. All of those things are there and I don’t think we can shoot ourselves in the foot by saying ‘move all of them out of school’.”

Maintaining that children learned by the use of technology, the Minister of Education emphasized the need for a much broader national education policy.

“So, all of that has to be part of the transition. Schools themselves will have to monitor, police, and support the transition that will come. It is because of the educational value that we will also have to get in stride,” he said. “We need to do a little more supervision of our children and talk to them about the ethical, sensible use of technology, rather than some of the sensational,” Jones added, while pointing to the existence of the Computer Misuse Act, which had the ability to trace most of the material back to its origin, even to those who passed it on.

He also said the Ministry was doing a lot of work to ensure there was good curriculum material for all of the technological tools.

“You can’t take out your cellphone in the classroom and make a call just like we say to the teachers ‘you can’t be using the classroom to make calls in front of the children’. You’re adults, but use that in your staff room,” he said, adding that it was not about a relaxation in the policy, but the writing of a new policy that took into consideration the current needs.

Recalling there was a group in Barbados which said it wanted WiFi made available across the island, Jones said: “That is a brilliant endeavour, but to give the WiFi and then you don’t have the other technologies to go with it is really counterproductive.”

Source: (BGIS)

8 Responses to Govt reconsidering cellphone ban

  1. Carl Harper June 20, 2015 at 10:16 am

    It is Jones who banned the cellphones from schools in the first place.

  2. Carl Harper June 20, 2015 at 10:18 am

    When everyone told Minister Ronald Jones that the ban on cellphones was counterproductive, he “stuck to his guns” and “remained on his high horse.” Now the education minister has come full circle, just in time for general elections.

    The moment Jones got a new smartphone, he suddenly discovered what an excellent device it is and how it could be used as a teaching and learning tool. It could also be tied into the school’s security and communication system where messages and alerts could be broadcast to students in the event of an emergency.

    Parents could be in easier contact with their children, as delivering important messages via the busy school secretary often did not reach the students on time. Policing the cellphone ban proved a headache for teachers and principals, and they gave up. Hence students took the devices to school and it was not a problem, provided they were not a distraction inside the classroom.

    Barbadian students could be missing out on “the global movement towards swifter, more effective communication and greater use of technology in education.” The penetration of the smartphone in Barbados households is among the highest in the Caribbean, if not the world. It certainly can have greater application for students than WhatsApp gossiping, bullying via Facebook, and recording video clips of fights and lewdness.

    On the political side, lifting the cellphone ban is part of Jones overall strategy to win favor with a large cross-section of students in time for the 2018 elections. He also wants to lower the voting age to 16 in line with the age of sexual consent and abolish corporal punishment; all in a desperate grab for the youth vote.

    Given the proposed three cents per minute tax on cellphone airtime that was announced in this week’s Budget, Jones could also be playing his part in trying to capture as much revenue as possible for the Treasury by lifting the ban and securing his $2.5 million for UWI scholarships and bursaries, and avoid another embarrassing situation come September.

  3. Alex Alleyne June 20, 2015 at 11:46 am

    More talk time =more MONEY. Government out to get the $ by any means necessary.

  4. Kevin June 20, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Next is drums at inter-school sports.

  5. Patrick Blackman June 20, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    There is a difference between technology in schools and smartphones in schools. The smartphone has no place in schools, it is a personal device which is not required for education purposes.

    The argument that is allows parents to communicate with their kids is just stupid. If there is an emergency then this is communicated to the headmaster’s office and the child is notified to call his/her parents. In my day this worked quite well.

    Smartphones are a distraction in classes for both the teachers and the students. I am not saying that kids and teachers cannot have them at school but they should be prohibited from being on in the classroom. What kids and teachers do on their free time/break/lunch is up to them but these devices are a no no in the class room.

    From an educational perspective, schools have a control environment called “computer labs” where standard issued technology is used, strict control of internet usage is required and monitored. Kids should not be playing around on the internet or have unrestricted access at school.

    We tend to find excuses to do stupid stuff all the time, kids are at school to learn, a smartphone doesn’t enhance this experience in anyway.

    • Olutoye Walrond June 20, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      Ms. Blackman, what makes you think students are permitted to play with/use cell phone during class?

  6. Patrick Blackman June 20, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    @Olutoye Walrond – Because I know kids who have confirm this to me personally sir.


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