COVID-19 revealed the dangers of not encouraging the use of mobile phones by SHS students in school.
The current GES rules do not permit students to use mobile phones. Many schools and Education Ministries across the world face the necessary evil. The important question of policy as to whether or not to ban the phones on school grounds had gained attention when COVID-19 hit the world.
As of June 2020, the then Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, disclosed that the Ghana Education Service (GES) was discussing the possibility of senior high students using mobile phones in school. The GES is yet to update stakeholders on decisions reached on when students are to return to school.
Educationist, Mr. Divine Kpe also added his voice to the call on the government and the GES to consider lifting the ban on the usage of mobile phones in Senior High School. He called on the need to teach students how to positively use the mobile device to advance or enhance their knowledge.
If SHS students are permitted to use mobile phones, some websites can be regulated on campus, in that, students may not have access to them”.He added.
However, when the call for the lifting of the ban on the use of mobile phones came up in June 2020, Heads of Second Cycle Schools strongly disagree with the proposal.
The National Secretary of CHASS, Mr. Samuel Gyebi Yeboah, told a local newspaper, “As for the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), we still stand by it that students should not be allowed to use mobile phones and we will enforce the GES regulation against the use of mobile phones by students,”.
Let the truth be told, many SHS students carry their mobile phones to school and use them on campus during contact hours.
Student’s improper usage and outcomes such as making nude videos among others seemed to have proven that strict enforcement of the ban was the best way.
But when COVID-19 hit us, stakeholders called for the need to revisit the current rules and make necessary changes. Nothing seems to have been done, and here we are with students going back to school.
The need has come for the Ghana Education Service to takes steps to alter its current position, enact new guidelines to help ensure responsible usage of phones in Senior High School.
The technology-driven world of today must see a technology-focused rule from the GES.
The quest for students to uphold morality seems to have been preferred over the benefits of Technology Integration and usage in our schools for long.
It is time to shift our focus. If no caning is good for our students, permitting mobile phone usage with laid down rules is worth considering.
The government started the installation of free Wi-Fi in second cycle schools in 2020. To what extent can that be used for learning by students if they are not allowed to use mobile phones in school?
Research drives education, information gathering, and learning. With the internet and mobile phones, students can dig into knowledge and information at school to supplement what their teachers provide them.
Reasons against the use of mobile phones in school
Mobile phone usage in Senior High School comes with its own disadvantages, which include the following.
- Mobile phone usage when permitted in school will present a lot of distraction to their owners and classmates.
- There will be some difficulty in enforcing the usage, this may be time-consuming.
- Confiscating phones not registered with the school can lead to deadly confrontations between students, teachers in charge, and the community.
- Allowing the usage of phones in school can increase theft cases -Phones can be stolen and sold elsewhere.
- May increase examination of malpractices and cheating in exams halls
- Increase indiscipline, take nude pictures and videos, and sharing them on social media may escalate.
Reasons in favour of the use of mobile phones in school
Mobile phone usage in Senior High School has benefits as well. These include the following.
- Allowing students to carry cell phones gives parents the ability to contact their children whenever necessary.
- Students can make audio recordings of lessons and replay them at prep or when in their dormitories for reinforcement of knowledge.
- Parents of such students can easily be reached during emergencies, and parents using GPS can track students.
- Students can use the phones for further research on topics taught. Students can verify information from teachers and on lessons using search engines such as Google or online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia.
- It helps students practice IT lessons that require their usage.
- The legalization will come with rules of usage, which will bar students from engaging in improper usage, especially if the punitive actions for breach of usage rules are high.
If the need to legalize the usage of mobile phones will be difficult, every effort must be made to look at the benefits of its usage by students while strategies are drawn and implement, and rules are enacted to prevent misuse and abuse.
The Ministry of Education, GES, and the government of Ghana could enter into partnerships with tech companies to design phones with given specifications that will prevent students from using them the wrong way.
These phones could then be bought by parents who want their wards to use them in school.
The time to reconsider this ban of phones by students in SHS is now. In case there are other benefits and disadvantages we did not consider, share them with us in the comment session. As to whether mobile phone usage in Senior High School will be approved soon, only time will tell.
Source: Wisdom Hammond| GhanaEducation.Org