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IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Jones on point with cellphones


ROY R. MORRIS, [email protected]

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Jones on point with cellphones

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NO, I AM NOT GETTING SOFT in my old age. No, he did not bribe or threaten me. And no, I have not suddenly become a Dem.

But I do agree with Minister of Education Ronald Jones. Yes, that’s what I said – I agree 100 per cent with Jones.

I am all for allowing children at secondary school to take cellphones to school, and believe the privilege should be extended to at least Class 3 and Class 4 students at the primary level.

I have heard what president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, Mary Redman, said about the fears teachers have – and they are real. Used the wrong way by children, these devices will certainly cause problems in the classroom and elsewhere on the campus, but I don’t believe that the value of the phone should be dismissed just because they can be misused.

It is the duty of parents, and teachers, to a lesser extent, to teach the children responsibility and then let them know they have our trust by leaving them to behave the way they were taught. Not every child will follow the rules and not every child will follow the rules all the time, and for those children and occasions there must be penalties.

There is just too much good that can come from the responsible use of smartphones for us to persist with this blanket ban: research, e-texts replacing paper textbooks and the excuse “Mam, I forgot my book home”; school libraries that provide digital access to tonnes more material than any school would ever be able to afford on its shelves.

I am particularly in favour of the state saving millions of dollars by not having to replenish books in the Textbook Loan Scheme annually. That is money that can be put to good use elsewhere in the system.

Minister Jones may upset many with his penchant for displaying the symptoms of “foot in mouth” disease with such regularity, but as the old people say, “fair is fair” and when he makes sense there is nothing wrong with saying so.

Of course the fears of teachers can’t be dismissed, but once they are listened to and engaged, solutions can be found. There will be intrigue at the start, but eventually this will disappear and our children will be less inclined to engage in folly.

So let’s get to discussing the principles, considering the challenges, formulating the solutions and turning our schools into true zones of technology and our students into the envy of our region.

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