A recent video –– filmed with a mobile phone – showing a mob of students at Lester Vaughan School attacking one of their peers in a brutal assault is not enough to sway Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to reverse his support for legitimizing the use of mobile devices in schools.
Brathwaite’s Cabinet colleague, Minister of Education Ronald Jones, plans to lift the nine-year-old ban of cell phones and allow students to freely take their devices to school come September, much to the dismay of the teachers’ unions.
And the Attorney General seems resigned that there was little either the schools or Government could do to keep the technology out of the classroom.
“What I can say to you is that, when my two sons were at school everyone had cell phones. It is nothing new about this, so you either do it legitimately or they going to take them in their bags. That is the reality,” Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY.
Earlier this month, President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union Mary Redman had appealed to Jones to reverse his decision, contending that these devices would only exacerbate the problem of gang activity and pose a major security threat to schools.
Redman had told Barbados TODAY that a troubling trend had emerged where students affiliated with gangs from various communities were using their mobile devices to call for backup whenever there was conflict with other students. She also lamented the many examples on social media of students engaging in brutal and barbaric fights, spurred on by their classmates, in a bid to garner likes.
However, Brathwaite was adamant that given the fact that cell phones are commonplace among youth culture, the answer did not lie in restricting phones and tablets, but in ensuring students use them constructively.
“We need not fear the technology. We need to ensure that they use it and use it correctly. The technology is here to stay and it has lots of positive benefits. So we have to ensure that our young people learn how to be responsible, and we could only do that by giving them responsibility,” he stressed.