Q&A: Is it time for a complete ban on cellphones in Antigua school classrooms?

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The case of a sex video being shared online by an Antigua pupil has again put the focus on the responsibilities facing schools. Should they harness the benefits of mobile technology for teaching, or ban them completely to protect our young people?
So what is the official policy now?
The policy covering all schools in Antigua was introduced in 2006 by the Ministry of Education. And it’s very straight to the point.
Students are allowed mobile phones but it must not be seen nor heard during school hours. It totally restricts the use of cellphones. But there’s a clause. The cellphones according to the policy can be used if a teacher of the principal endorses it.
What are the benefits of bringing mobiles into the classroom?
Well immediate access to parents in an emergency is probably one of the first line benefits. Another is access to information from the outside world. Students can also help spread necessary information to each other
Are the risks high enough to spark a policy change?
It goes without saying that social media access is a distraction and some kids have known to become addicted. And pornography…Well if a recent survey is true, by the age of 9, ninety percent of students may have encountered some porn on social media.
What’s the view of parents?
I spoke to a few parents who claim that its neither here nor there for them. Some parents just didn’t care if their children could or couldn’t have mobile phones. But there were a few who said it would work to their disadvantage if their children are no longer allowed to carry their cellphones to school.
And will the ministry be reviewing their policy?
The Director of Education believes the issue has nothing to do with mobile phones but instead the behavior of students. Clare Browne said children are going to behave in whatever way they want, with or without a mobile device. And of course, he said there will be no change to the policy.

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