Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora has defended the use of cellphones by pupils in schools saying modern cellphones were virtual computers that can enhance learning.Minister Dokora said what was important was for schools to come up with policies that guided cellphone use as banning phones was akin to denying pupils access to modern technology.
The minister was responding to a question in the Senate from Mashonaland East traditional leader Chief Musarurwa on Thursday last week.
Chief Musarurwa had asked what Government policy was on the use of cellphones in schools and whether parents had been consulted.
He said there was a fear that pupils could end up exposed to pornographic material should mobile phones be allowed in schools.
Minister Dokora said mobile phones had functions consistent with those that were on a computer and the use of such gadgets was in line with President Mugabe’s computerisation programme.
He said it was important for people to move with the times, by realising that the world had advanced technologically from ancient big computers to the modern ones like laptops that one could carry in a bag.
Minister Dokora said because of technological convergence, most functions on cellphones were on a computer as well.
“We have told teachers not to fight technology. We do not want our pupils to be surprised by these gadgets when they are at university. Guidance is, however, necessary about their use, like some sites could even be closed,” he said.
He said cellphones just like computers could be used to enhance learning through internet research.
Minister Dokora said a teacher could even create a WhatsApp platform with his or her pupils where he would give assignments.
Senators asked if allowing cellphones with calculator functions would not make a child lazy as he or she would just resort to the mobile phone in search for answers instead of thinking.
Minister Dokora said there were some internet sites that even gave assignments for pupils on a given subject.
“We also have a subject like mathematics where in one of the courses we actually ask pupils to bring calculators in the examination room. This is because there is something that we would be testing the pupil,” he said.
Chief Musarurwa appeared not to have been convinced and rose on a point of order where he repeated his question whether cellphones were now allowed in schools.
“What you now call a cellphone is actually a computer in itself because of convergence,” said Minister Dokora in response.