Tafadzwa Ndlovu Herald Reporter
Schools should permit pupils to bring cellphones and other mobile devices to class to help acquaint them with mobile technologies, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora told The Herald recently that there was nothing wrong with schoolchildren using mobile phones in school since the devices were necessary “in this era of technological advancement.”
He encouraged parents to buy their children mobile gadgets to enable them to acquaint themselves with mobile technology.
“I do not see any problem with allowing pupils to bring and use their cellphones at schools because we are in a time of technological advancement,” the minister said.
“We want them to have those things, be it cellphones, laptops or other mobile devices since we are living in a world where technology is changing every day.
“It would actually be an advantage to the pupils as they are able to view the world differently through new technologies.”
Worldwide, there is no consensus among educationists on the use of mobile phones in schools.
Anti-school mobile phone use educationists say cellphones promote limited learning, behavioural problems, raise the potential for cheating and the risk of theft.
Their use, they also argue, created worries about cheating, visiting inappropriate websites, sexting or overuse and the posting of fights or other incidents on the social media.
Others were against the use of cellphones in schools, pointing it out as a major distraction to pupils during lessons or the course of the term.
Proponents for school mobile phone use say their use is good for education purposes including research or for safety in emergency cases.
Some countries that have lifted the ban of mobile phones, have developed mobile device policies in consultation with students and parents.
Under the policies, mobile phones are allowed in school and used in class at the teacher’s discretion, with a clear system of sanctions applied for misuse.
Most teacher unions are against mobile phone use in schools. They say the devices are a cause of disruption and indiscipline and unions are particularly worried by pupils taking photographs in lessons and posting material on YouTube and social networking sites.
Some parents say they feel more comfortable knowing they can keep in contact with their children while they are commuting to school. Others are totally opposed.
“Don’t ban mobiles in schools, let students use them,” Dr Dokora said.
Most schools in Zimbabwe still maintain a ban on cellphones despite the fact that students often smuggle them into the schools.