IT cannot be denied that electronic gadgets can improve the learning process of students as they can access information easily via these devices.
In the near future, students may have to put away their books and take out their electronic devices in classrooms. Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid recently has said that starting from next year, students in 10,000 schools will be allowed to bring certain mobile devices to class.
However, it was reported that mobile phones would not be allowed as students must concentrate on studying and not chatting with their friends.
Some people claim that phones are more distracting compared with devices that depend on WiFi or a local area network to connect to the Internet.
However, the latest technologies and applications are able to establish both voice and
video communication through laptops or tablets.
I hope that the guidelines being drafted by the ministry will take into consideration this issue as the technology is evolving so fast that the guidelines might be obsolete few months after its introduction.
I urge the ministry to study this proposal and get feedback from tech experts when drafting the guidelines.
With information and communications technology, it will also be easier for students to understand what is being taught in the classroom.
However, we must have strict guidelines to ensure students do not misuse or abuse the technology by accessing unapproved sites. The ministry must also decide who will monitor the use of these gadgets in school.
As in previous cases, teachers will be forced to shoulder the responsibility although we know that they have to handle too many tasks at present.
At the same time, we must know who will supply the devices as not all students can afford to buy them.
If students are allowed to buy the electronic gadgets themselves, those from the well-to-do families will bring the latest and expensive devices, creating low self-esteem among poor students.
It can lead to theft and other disciplinary cases as some students may be tempted to steal the gadgets that they could not afford to buy.
The wide use of such gadgets could also expose students to cyberbullying as some students may exploit social media to harass and bully the victims.
Based on CyberSecurity Malaysia statistics, cyberbullying among students is serious — 250 cases were reported in 2012, 2013 (389), 2014 (291), 2015 (256) and last year (338).
A survey by Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd and Telenor Group last year revealed that one in four students admitted to having experienced cyberbullying.
Also, the astronomical cost will be an issue since there are five million students nationwide.
Therefore, the ministry should discuss with the National Union of the Teaching Profession, parent-teacher associations and other stakeholders to ensure that the guidelines cover all issues and must be updated in tandem with the ever-changing technology.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Senior vice-chairman, Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation