Jones closer to answering cellphone call

Minister of Education Ronald Jones says he is currently reviewing feedback from education stakeholders, in order to issue a revised policy on the use of cell phones in schools.

Jones had announced back in 2015, that he was open to lifting the ban on cell phones, as they were learning instruments.

And today he told Parliament that he had evolved on the use of technology.

“The BSTU [Barbados Secondary Teachers Union], the BUT [the Barbados Union of Teachers], the council of parent teachers associations and the principals all had the policy to review and I’ve now finally received all of their comments and we’re seeking to incorporate within the policy those comments which would give us hopefully a better rollout of the particular policy,” Jones said.

However, he suggested that his ministry was proceeding with caution since “one of the mistakes that we sometimes make in our society is to believe that everybody knows how to use the technology in an ethical manner, in a sensible manner, and to actually advance their learning and their communication with the wider world.

“The new policy seeks to codify a particular position which would allow the use of particular technology in school for learning, for research, for communication,” he said, while admitting that he was “a fan of technology”.

Jones said that while he recognized the benefits of technology, he would not want the island’s students to put it to wrong use.

“What I don’t want . . . is children who wouldn’t apply themselves to use the information and knowledge out there to analyze, but take it wholesale without recognizing the original author. We’ve had too much plagiarism and that does not advance learning. All it does is regurgitate that which somebody else has provided, without even recognizing that,” Jones explained.

Also contributing to the debate on education, Opposition Member of Parliament for St Michael North Ronald Toppin said there were several benefits to be derived from allowing students to use their cell phones, including being able to communicate with teachers when they are unable to attend classes due to illness.

Toppin suggested that Government would also benefit.

“It would do the Government well to embrace this technology because it can save costs. If Government allows students to bring cell phones to school, there’s no need for Government to be put through the expense of providing computers and so on for the students,” Toppin said.

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