Public divided on cellphones in schools
by Jenne Lajiun, Mariah Doksil, Suraini Andokong, Christy Chok. Posted on July 22, 2012, Sunday
KOTA KINABALU: Should students be allowed to bring hand phones to school? Members of the public who were asked to comment were divided on the matter.
Some, like Dr Harry Chong, a lecturer, was not against the idea but said the purpose of allowing students to bring hand phones to school should be to communicate with their parents.
He said a schedule must be fixed as to when the students are allowed to use the hand phone device and when they should switch it off.
“They could use the device to communicate with their parents before the start of the school period and at the end of the school period. It is basically for safety reason — parents want to ensure that their children have safely arrived at school if they are travelling by bus and to ease parents who are picking up the children from school,” he said.
However, the schools have to work out a mechanism to prevent students from using the device during lessons to avoid distractions.
He also said students should only be allowed to bring hand phones that do not have a camera to prevent potential harassment of students taking any unpleasant photos of other students or school staff.
“Only cheap entry level hand phones without a camera should be allowed. This will also discourage students to steal hand phones as these models have very little second-hand value. They will also not lose any important data in the form of pictures or video if the hand phone got stolen,” he said.
He added that the use of hand phones in school should be for improving security and not to allow potential criminal acts to occur.
Mark Rampangajouw, who works for a research facility in Kinabatangan, felt that if the school feels that it was alright for students to have hand phones, then it should not be a problem.
“However, the device should not be allowed to be used in classrooms. A designated place and schedule must be outlined for the hand phone usage,” he said.
Full-time housewife and former school principal, Betty Tseu, on the other hand was strongly against the use of hand phones in schools by students.
“I am against the idea of kids bringing hand phones to school. It is a huge distraction for kids and I don’t like the idea of not knowing who my children communicate with. Having hand phones in school is like kids having free access to the internet and opening doors to more security issues. Parents will not be able to control who the kids are communicating with,” she said.
Another person against the idea of introducing handphones in schools is Borneo Rhino Alliance executive director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne.
“I am strongly against it. It disrupts the purpose of school. There is no need (for it) anyway. Poor kids feel disadvantaged and rich kids start to learn the ‘us versus them’ mentality,” he said.
A school counsellor, Sabriah Maili of SMK Tansau, described the proposal as extremely irrelevant.
The 27-year-old teacher pointed out that it would only distract the attention of the students in classroom and would not lend credence to the effort of transforming the education sector.
“As teachers, we are fully aware that the current generation of students are adept on the usage of electronic gadgets and it is safe to make an assumption that it is not impossible for them to use these advanced gadgets to share any information, positive or negative, with their friends in the classroom,” said Sabriah.
A tour guide and also a father of four, Reman Sulaiman, 30, opined that the proposal by the Ministry has its good and bad sides.
“During our school days, we didn’t need any electronic gadgets to be brought to school. For us, it was then unimportant,” he said.
Reman conversely said, that mobile phones are also useful to be used in school by the students in view of the numerous applications such as the dictionary which can assist students in their work in the classroom.
“But weighing in the negatives, many bad things and influences can be spread among students through the mobile phone,” Reman added.
Nasri Nova, 24, described the Ministry’s proposal as irrelevant as it would lead to the distraction of the teaching and learning sessions in the classes.
“Some students will undoubtedly fiddle with their cellphones or sending SMSes to their friends, rather than paying attention in class which is what is demanded of them,” he explained.
Nasri expressed the opinion that it would also encourage students who are ‘experts’ in the usage of electronic gadgets, to abuse and misuse them such as the posting of X-rated films or other unhealthy activities.
“I do not deny however that mobile phones are sometimes useful to some parents who constantly worry about the whereabout of their children and their gesture to provide their children with this facility should be construed as part of parental attention towards their offsprings and to facilitate communication in the case of an emergency,” added Nasri.
Siti Radzia Ramlee, a teacher from Kota Belud, said students should not be allowed to bring any electronic gadgets to school, including mobile phones or iPad because this would only distract them from their studies.
“I am speaking through my experience teaching in a secondary school. Electronic gadgets will be their reason to be busy with what is happening outside the classroom instead of listening to the teachers teaching them.
“Apart from that, I am afraid that our students will take advantage by contacting their lovers when they should be studying. We often seized students’ mobile phones and found a lot of Short Message Service (SMS) to and from their girlfriends or boyfriends, setting date after school hours,” she said.
PTA national chairman Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan had recently said that students should not be allowed to bring any electronic gadgets to school, including mobile phones or iPad because this would create an unhealthy ‘show-off’ culture among them.
Siti Radzia agreed with Mohamad Ali, saying that students will be more motivated for having fancy gadgets to bring to school, without noticing their parents will have to pay for them.
“I understand the reason of security purposes and parents want to contact their children while at school but I think the Education Ministry should have the initiative to look at the other way, for example, to ensure all schools in the country have public phones for emergency purposes.
“I can say also gadgets will be another tools for students to cheat in the classrooms because mobile phones could be their emergency tools to ask for help during tests or quiz sessions,” she added.
Meanwhile, another teacher from Tawau, Fauziah Francis Sinon said there are pros and cons in the proposal, because mobile phones have been the most popular and important communication tools in this era.
Parents will be able to contact their children in case they are late to pick them up, while the students will be able to inform their parents if they have extra activities in schools.
Fauziah added that students also have the advantage to contact their parents any time in any kind of situations, including during emergency like being sick or injured while in school.
“There are a few positive implications on this proposal. However, we must not forget the electronic gadgets now are very easy to use and you can do many things with them. As adults, we know which information will be suitable to our age, but students should have a limit on that. How can the parents control what they surf on the internet if they are not with them all the time? Even teachers will not have the power to control them.
“As a teacher, I don’t agree with this proposal. How if they lose their gadgets in school? How if teachers are starting to do business selling reload coupons because of the high demand?” she asked.
Fauziah suggested that if the Education Ministry was very concerned about the technology development among students, it must come out with a huge allocation, to teach the students on the development of the technology by teaching them and allow them how to use iPad, MP3, CD player or even television in a proper way and bring all of those things to school to ensure their students are updated on what is happening in the new era.
An academician, Oscar Dousin of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) said the proposal should be reviewed properly before implementing it because it will contribute to the social development of the younger generations.
He said gadgets such as mobile phones will be the students’ tools to record something about their friends and spread it into the internet for attention or revenge.
“Teenagers are very ‘fragile’ and they will be very easy to be influenced by negative things from the social network. I believe it will contribute to a high spending habit because of the needs of high-tech gadgets.
“It will encourage students to do whatever they can to ensure they will get the best gadgets because of the competition at school,” he added.
A mother, Rusinah Kamin said the Education Ministry should solve the problem of students carrying heavy textbooks to schools instead of teaching them to finish their parents’ money.
“Bringing mobile phones to schools is not the main priority in the education system. We need to help them to reduce the heavy textbooks. I believe the Education Ministry has a special team to think about this matter.
“I suggest, if the government is very serious to have high-tech students, why does not it install all the textbooks into an iPad and give it to the students instead? Don’t tell me the ministry allows students to bring gadgets to school and after that the government will have 1Malaysia mobile phone and 1Malaysia iPads aid,” she said.
In SANDAKAN, a father of three, Felix Martin, 44, agreed with the move to allow students to bring mobile phones to schools but he said students should only use it for emergency purposes under the surveillance of teachers.
“We cannot deny the importance of mobile phones in our daily lives and when students are allowed to bring mobile phones to school, it brings relieve to some parents.
“As parents, we worry about our children since we do not know what may happen if they are away from us, so with mobile phones, it gives us space to get in touch anytime,” he said.
As for Willfred Duin, he rejected the move to allow students to bring mobile phones and gadgets to schools.
“If students were allowed to do so, teachers may face difficulties in teaching in a proper way.
“Students may become less focused and interested in class as most children now are using smart phones and may surf the internet during classes,”said the 27- year old teacher from SMK Narinang, Kota Belud.
He also said that bringing phones to schools could create the opportunity for students to be involved in immoral activities such as exchanging and possessing explicit videos.
“We’ll notice more negative rather than positive impact for our future leaders if we allow them to bring mobile phones to school,” he added.
In TAWAU, SJK © Sin Hwa Parent Teacher Association (PTA) president Datuk Yong Chi Fui is against the proposal to allow students to bring mobile phones to schools.
Yong said it not only distracted students from their studies but would also seriously affect lessons in class if they used the gadgets in inappropriate ways.
“If the government wishes to implement the proposal to allow students to bring mobile phones to school, I would suggest that the gadgets be kept by the school temporarily, and students could use their gadgets to contact their parents if necessary,” he said.
In Singapore and other private schools, gadgets belonging to students would be kept by the school management and students could only retrieve their gadgets if they needed to make any emergency calls to their family members or relatives, he said.
Yong also hoped the schools would monitor the students and their gadgets to avoid any ‘misuse’ from happening.
Meanwhile, a parent Kenneth Goh, also said such proposal was not suitable, especially in primary schools as primary schools did not require the Internet for information.
Kenneth said students do not need mobile phones in schools as most schools have public phones nearby.
Meanwhile, Tawau Kapitan Chong Hon Vun also opposed the proposal to allow students to bring mobile phones to schools.
“It is not needed as students still do not have the discipline to handle their time and studies,” he said, adding that students who brought hand phones to school could become targets for culprits,” he added.