Wrong call, Mr Jones – Redman

The reversal of a ban on cell phone use in schools is not going down well with teachers, who contend there are already too many problems associated with smart phones at school.

Minister of Education Ronald Jones last Saturday announced that a new policy on mobile technology use in nursery, primary and secondary schools would be ready in time for the new academic year in September, paving the way for students to use their mobile devices.

However, this has angered the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), which accused Jones of not only excluding the union from consultations on the issue “even though the teachers would be responsible policy implementation”, but also flatly disregarding the teachers’ previous objection.

“We were asked several years ago to submit our position and we made it clear to the ministry that we were not in favour of it [cell phones in schools] and that was years ago. So I don’t know where this policy has come from and how long ago he [Jones] has been in contact with these new groups, but we have not seen any new policy.

“I really don’t know what he is talking about, but we have not been included. It is really indicative of how they have been treating the teachers’ unions generally. There are many things in terms of educational planning and implementation that we were once involved with at a level that does not exist anymore,” BSTU President Mary Redman told Barbados TODAY in an interview on Tuesday.

The Minister of Education has long held that the ban was outdated and contradictory, since it suggested one set of rules for teachers and a different set for students.

On the other hand, teachers have contended that mobile phone use would be a distraction, and would worsen an already serious problem of ill-discipline, as well as force teachers to act as phone police.

They also point to cases where students use their mobile phones to record sexual acts in school toilets, as well as fights, and share the videos on social media.

“We do not support cell phone use in schools because of all of the problems that we know of, all the problems that currently exist without there being a stated permission for students to use cell phones. There is the issue of all of the fights that we see recorded and put on Facebook for posterity,” Redman said.

“We know how those cell phones can be abused, we also know of the problems that they cause in terms of theft in schools. It is a distraction and I do not know why the minister would be insisting on this.”

The BSTU’s position runs contrary to that of the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools, whose president, Vere Parris, has gone on record as saying that his organization had been part of the deliberations on the new policy two years ago.

Parris has argued that the issue was not one of cell phone use, but rather an incorporation of technology into the school system.

17 Responses to Wrong call, Mr Jones – Redman

  1. Jennifer March 24, 2017 at 3:59 am

    ” It is a distraction and I do not know why the minister would be insisting on this.”

    Because the minister is ingrunt.

  2. Bradg March 24, 2017 at 5:43 am

    I am in favour of mobile devices at school. The conversation should be banning phones in schools but rather implementation of policy and procedures and enforcing strict rules for the use of these devices on school premises. These are modern times that require a different “perscription”. Its not the 60s, 70s or 80s, allow the children to use the technology, whether phone or tablet but enforce the rules and ensure parents know what those rules are. Notice the focus is on phones whilst tablets have the same capability.

  3. Samantha Best March 24, 2017 at 6:10 am

    I hope Ms. Redman deals with the use of cell phones by teachers during teaching sessions the same time. Why are teachers talking on cell phones on the corridors and even in the class rooms in front of the class, at the blackboard and telling students put their heads on the desks while they make a call? It is rediculous!!

    I agree with Bradg. The Minister did say with the parents’ approval. It is needed now more than ever especially since there is lots of after school activity and both parents are at work and not like in the 70’s and 80’s when mothers were still home and could monitor and collect children. This is a non-issue and need not be taken to this level of discussion. Teach, stop holding back the real teaching for paid “lessons”, correct exam papers and
    treat children with respect and earn respect .

    • Jennifer March 24, 2017 at 8:29 am

      I agree with you Samantha and Bradg. Policies need to be put in place.

  4. Bradg March 24, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Oops. Meant to say “the conversation should NOT be about banning phones in schools”.

  5. Bradg March 24, 2017 at 6:56 am

    Totally agree Samantha!

  6. harry turnover March 24, 2017 at 7:05 am

    Well said Samantha and sometimes in an emergency you would call the School and ask that a message be sent to the child and sometimes the message is not sent or be told as I was when my daughter was in PRIMARY SCHOOL ..the one near a UNION…that that phone is NOT THERE FOR THAT PURPOSE.
    I say no cell phone use in CLASS unless there is an EMERGENCY in that case the child should be excused and be allowed to use the phone on the outside.
    ….and the Minister should STOP those paid for lessons after School or TAX THEM.
    Imagine their UNION says they are on a WORK TO RULE that after 3 pm EVERYTHING DONE…YET some teachers REMAIN and charge $50 EVERY MONTH PER CHILD for LESSONS that should have been taught DURING SCHOOL HOURS….TAX THAT OR STOP IT.

  7. Narcissus March 24, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I am a parent I and agree with children having cell phone but with strict restrictions during school time. As said in the previous comments this is not the 70’s or 80’s times have changed. You have children with weapons in their possession at school, deal with that. When we had that unexpected downpour that flooded out the whole island last year, if not for my child’s cell phone I would not have known he was stuck in the country waiting for a bus that was not coming. Many times he would msg when he is late due to whatever reason. In theses times now you are even more worried when your child is late coming home. Plus if not for cell phones many incidents would not be dealt with such as children fighting. Not agreeing that posting on social media is right but without some of those post the truth is not known.

  8. Hewers of wood March 24, 2017 at 8:42 am

    The thing is that the cell phones never left the schools. They only went covert.

  9. Ernesta Catlyn March 24, 2017 at 8:49 am

    You can always tell, by the comments, those who have never taught, who do not have close family or friends who teach or taught and those who do not have school-aged children. Well, than again some of you may have school-aged children but since the children are the ones ruling the roost, then you have no choice but to side with them.

  10. bradg March 24, 2017 at 9:51 am

    There are pros and cons to everything. But what the heck, you are entitled to your opinion. Thank god you are not the decision maker!

  11. Narcissus March 24, 2017 at 10:01 am

    You know bradg agreed. Everyone has their opinion. Don’t mind some. I have many close relatives who teach from Principal back down. Showed a video two days ago with a teacher making sport with the students during school time stupse. I would like to see the day my child rule me.

  12. Sheron Inniss March 24, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Technology in class that can be monitored – yes.

    Cell phone use in the classroom – no.

    I went to school and in an emergency my parent was contacted.

    The problem I believe is that some teachers really in the wrong profession and do not know how to engage their students in the classroom. I overheard a student at the bus stop saying that he hated his history teacher. The reason being that if you even drop a pen and it roll you must ask permission to retrieve said pen.

    Another thing I learnt about the school was that you start certain subjects in third form. Now tell me why would you start teaching subjects like physics, history, etc at that early(sic)stage. That is a retrograde step. No wonder the children disenchanted. Yes I know I stray from the topic but I could not help myself. All children are not brainiacs.

  13. Milli Watt March 24, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I like the comments, this is what free education, democracy and a @#@$ for an education minister can come up with less than a year before election to pander to the mob. I love it Rome going burn quicker than I expected. let me see got the pop corn, drink, extra snacks should be a good show in the coming months. Youngsters could hardly keep their clothes on with the ban ON imagine with the ban OFF. you got to love island life.

  14. Jennifer March 24, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    @Ernesta Catlyn – Agree with you. What might help teachers is if the principals implement DISCLAIMERS. And sent parents directly to Mr Jones, he brought it in, then he can take some of the headache. It is bad enough that ADULTS DO NOT KNOW WHEN TO PUT THEIR PHONE ON SILENT OR TURN IT OFF DEPENDING ON CIRCUMSTANCE they are in.

  15. Ernesta Catlyn March 24, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    The reality of it is that too many parents only want their children baby-sat for the duration of the school hours. Do not try to discipline them, do not try to encourage them to excel – just leave them alone until it is time for the parent to get home from work or until they have finished watching video etc. during the school hours – for hose that do not work.

    The children are frustrated and so are the teachers. Along with the disciplinary problems both student and teacher are also bored. We speak of teachers making the classes more exciting but this, in most cases calls for resources that the schools do not have. In some schools children have to walk with toilet paper. I know of a secondary school where all the teachers did not have desks and chairs (not sure if this has been rectified). Some teachers are fed up at having to spend their own money and can never get any thanks from any section of the society.

    The syllabuses are too long. Right now primary school teachers have children that are preparing for 11+ coming to school at 7:30 and 8:00. This is not from lack of teaching during the year – private schools are also doing this, and this is in addition to still going to lessons outside of the school. Look I could go on. Our educational system is a mess and our Ministry of Education has allowed CXC to be the boss.

    Before you start, I am not a member of the teaching profession. I have just made it my business to walk a quarter mile in others shoes

  16. Narcissus March 27, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Yes Ernesta some of your comments are quite correct. Don’t be misguided by what I said before. I believe cells should be restricted during school time….No use period. Any cell phone should be off completely during school, and I am glad you know that the children too are frustrated. I am not my child’s friend but his parent. I have done and continue to do my part both in disciplining and school work, all are not the same. As you said put the blame in our educational system where it is needed. It was going down long before cell phones came about. The tablets they are introducing can do the same “harm” as a cell phone.


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