The President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Pedro Shepherd says he is now in a quandary following last week’s pronouncements made by Minister of Education Ronald Jones on the use of cellphones in schools.
Speaking at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, Jones gave his biggest hint to date that the present ban on cellphone use among students may soon be lifted, saying: “I can see photos and videos of a class or classes and teachers on their cellphones in front of the children . . . [and] that is the contradiction of our reality”.
Jones also argued that in a rapidly changing technological era “we can’t shut children away from technology use and particularly that for educational use”.
“Am I going to put the laptop out of school? They have all of the apps and software that you can find on a smartphone . . . every single thing that you can find is in the computer, the laptop, the iPad or tablets. All of those things are there and I don’t think we can shoot ourselves in the foot by saying ‘move all of them out of school’,” the Minister argued.
However, in view of Jones’ statements, Shepherd told Barbados TODAY he was unclear as to whether a ban was actually in effect.
“I really don’t know what it is. I don’t know what the programme is right now; whether it is a ban or not a ban because I know AVA [Audio Visual Aids] had done some posters banning cellphones. So I don’t know if those are in effect or if what the Minister says is in effect; so really and truly the picture is confusing,” Shepherd maintained.
“So maybe he [Jones] will have to say what really is the position. I really don’t know,” the BUT president stressed.
While calling on the Minister to clarify the Government’s policy on cellphone use in schools, Shepherd said teachers would need to be told whether their charges would be required to bring their phones to school and have the teachers collect them for subject areas or whether the students would be allowed to keep their cellphones on them all day.