If I remember correctly, the use of cellphones in schools was banned by the Department of Education several years ago during the time of then Secretary, Bro. Andrew Gonzales, FSC. This was brought about by the numerous complaints the Department of Education received from parents and teachers who claimed, among others, that the gadget disturbs the class and hence the learning process. However, this directive seems to have no teeth at all. Unlike the Tamagochi which was earlier banned for the same reasons, cellphones even proliferated within school grounds. You can see students as young as the elementary level holding the device and indulging in texting messages or calling friends and members of their family. This is the reason why I just smiled when I read the move to ban cellphones in classrooms to prevent gambling. This was covered in Sassy’s blog.
It's not very practical to ban cellphones for the simple reason that it has now become a necessity. I believe that the most important reason for letting the cellphones on campus is that parents can easily get in touch with their children through their units. Whereas before when parents picking up their children would have to roam the whole campus just to find their children, they’re just a few numbers away today. By and large, together with the computer, the cellphone is an advancement in technology which the children of today should be accustomed to. We don't want to let them sit idly by as the world moves on to greater heights.
In fairness to the Department’s directive, the use of cellphones had already been controlled. Most schools, if not all, has completely forbidden its use inside the classrooms. In my school alone, cellphones are to be used only before the morning routine and after dismissal time.
But as you know, the more rules are created, the more chances are there for students to violate. One is the issue of theft. A number of students have lost their phones. It amazes me how some parents would just simply buy them another one instead of reprimanding them for not taking care of their belongings. Maybe that’s one of the perks of having too much money. I don’t know.
The more interesting thing for me, though, is very challenging. From the time I started in this office, (two months) there had been cases of confiscated cellphones brought to my table by teachers. It would have not been a problem if the child really violated the rule. However, there were instances when a cellphone would ring in class, and because the teacher does not know whose it is, would ask all students to take out their phones. He/She then confiscates those whose phones are switched on. I’ve been told that this was the practice eversince cellphones became a fad.
I am not comfortable with this practice for several reasons. First of all, it is like hunting game where you aim your gun to the air and fire hoping you can get a duck! More often than not, you don’t hit a duck. The way I see it, the teacher only penalizes more innocent people than going for the culprit alone. It is true that the Handbook states that all cellphones shall be switched off once classes start but how will the teacher know if it was in silent mode had he/she not compelled the student to take out his/her phone? It’s like forcing the student to commit a mistake. I can understand the logic of showing toughness in class in order to gain control but I am also concerned about fairness and justice. What if during the time the phone was in the hands of the teacher, or in my office and the phone was stolen, then what? Shall the school replace it? Most of the students’ phones are not the ordinary ones. These are expensive and I only earn a pittance.