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The handphone debate


MOBILES IN SCHOOLS: Teachers and parents voice their views on new proposal

 KUALA LUMPUR: PARENTS and teachers are divided over the Education Ministry's proposal to allow mobile phones in school, starting next year. 

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) claimed yesterday that all 180,000 members were against the policy.

However, parent-teacher associations contacted by the New Straits Times said the move was acceptable, provided strict regulations regarding usage were in place to ensure students did not abuse the privilege.

NUTP president Hashim Adnan said the union's members were worried teachers would become the "inevitable victims" of the proposal.

"If the government wants to allow handphones in schools, they must ensure that teachers will not be given the responsibility to safeguard their students' phones.

"On average, there are more than 2,000 pupils in each public school and if all of them bring a handphone to school, who will ensure that none of them go missing?"

Hashim added that NUTP members were against the government's proposal because it would not be conducive for all students.

"Not everyone can afford a handphone. Some students may feel insecure or depressed if they couldn't afford an expensive phone like their peers. How will that affect our students' self-confidence?"

On Monday, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong had announced the plans to amend regulations in the Education Act 1996.

He said the provision to allow students to bring handphones to schools would require strict guidelines.

National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) president Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Ali Hasan said handphones would distract students in classrooms.

"While the teachers are teaching, the students will be busy with their handphones. The sound of ringtones and text message notifications will distract them from their lessons."

Ali was also concerned that the crime rate in schools would increase because of handphone thefts and bullying.

"If everyone brought their handphone to school, criminals would start targeting the schools instead. I suggest the government allow only certain type of handphones to be brought to school such as the basic ones with incoming call and text messaging features."

Parent Action Group chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, however, said allowing students to bring handphones to school could enhance communication between students and parents.

"This is important, especially for high school students who have extra-curricular activities. They can alert their parents on their whereabouts through the handphone."

Noor Azimah, however, cautioned that strict regulations must be imposed and agreed that handphones should only be used during certain hours in school.

She suggested lockers be installed in schools so that students could keep their textbooks and valuables safe.

Students using mobile phones and information technology gadgets outside their school. Starting from next year students will be allowed to bring mobile phones and IT gadgets to school after the rules and regulations under the Education Act 1996 are amended. NSTP/Pic by Nurul Syazana Rose Razman

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