Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mobile Phones in Schools a Mistake - STU

  NR       Thursday, July 19, 2012

SIBU: The move to allow students to bring handphones to school has drawn critical reactions from the teachers unions and educationists.

They foresee it could do more harm than good, possibly opening up loopholes for students to engage in copying or leaking out information during examinations.

As such, they collectively agreed that handphones ought to be banned in schools in the interest of safety and security.

In leading the call yesterday, Sarawak Teachers Union (STU) president William Ghani Bina strongly felt the use of such device in school might open to abuse, enabling students to cheat in their examinations.

“All the teachers unions in the country attended the meeting chaired by Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong.

I was there, too, and we collectively disagreed with the move to allow children to bring handphones to school.

“The thing is, for example, they can key-in the essay into their handphones and retrieve the information during examinations. Similarly, they can key-in answers into their phones thus, giving more rooms for those dishonest individuals to copy and make the grade,” Ghani told The Borneo Post.

Wee on Monday said students would be allowed to bring mobile phones and IT gadgets to school from next year after the rules and regulations under the Education Act 1996 were amended.
He said such changes were needed to encourage educators and students to embrace information technology in line with the Education Ministry’s move to implement the virtual teaching and learning programme ‘1Bestari’ nationwide.

Ghani, however, said allowing the use of such device in school would be most disruptive and might impede acquisition of knowledge.

“During lessons, students being children would be tempted to send SMSes, play games or even watch ‘funny’ pictures. And the poor teacher would be left talking to himself as students seemed to be more interested in the device,” he explained.

He said this might engender untoward incidents where students being too engrossed on the phone might be unaware of oncoming vehicles outside the school gate.

On security aspect, he said: “Snatch thieves are always on the prowl and students could become easy prey.

“If students are talking on the handphone, bad hats could just spring from nowhere and snatch their device, which may result in injury if they (students) fall,” he warned.

Advising parents, he said handphones should only be given to their children when it was deemed really necessary.

“In fact, parents could always call the school if they needed to speak to their children,” he suggested.

University professor Dr Ting Chek Ming, however, lauded the move, saying it would bring more merits, provided rules and regulations were laid down as in flying.

“The control mechanism would require students to only switch on their handphones during recess or after school for them to get in touch with their parents.
“Like when boarding aeroplanes, we are required to turn off our handphones until the aircraft has landed and we are inside the terminal. The same rules can be implemented to ensure the device is put to good use.

“And there is no way for students to cheat if the device is prohibited in the examination hall,” Dr Ting reasoned.

He asserted that having the device would certainly come in handy when parents need to inform their children that

they would be late to fetch them due to an urgent meeting or other urgent matters.
A parent, Angy Ng, figured some students might abuse the various advanced features in the handphone to cheat during examinations.

“Others may find it hard to resist texting to friends or resorting to playing games during lesson. This could be very disruptive and impede the knowledge transfer process,” Ng argued.

“As kids have yet to mature mentally and are naturally inquisitive, there is no telling what they would do with their handphones.”

Chief executive officer (CEO) of Kolej ITA Datuk Seri Dr Benny Lee also thought the device might be open to abuse, like leaking out information.

“They may do unexpected things in class and later upload onto Facebook and others. Children in both primary and secondary schools are not ready for this,” he said.

- The Borneo Post

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