PETALING JAYA: Allow mobile phones in schools but make sure there are strict guidelines on usage.
Educationists and parents say it is time to let students bring their devices to the classrooms but there must be regulations to prevent the privilege from being abused.
The Education Ministry must, however, come up with usage guidelines to prevent issues that could arise from such a move.
On Tuesday, the ministry ran an online survey on whether students should be allowed to bring mobile phones to schools.
The survey, which ends on Dec 7, would be used by the ministry to plan and decide on the matter.
Its chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (Page) advocates the use of mobile phones as a learning device.
Online learning should be used to supplement lessons, she said.
Mobile phones should be encouraged in schools, more so now that students are comfortable with online learning, she added.
“But there must be guidelines to ensure that students are disciplined and responsible in their use of smartphones in schools,” she said, adding that individual schools should be given the final say on whether or not to allow mobile phones based on the economic background of its students and its ability to conduct online learning.
Educationist and former National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said the ministry must come up with guidelines that are holistic.
“As we evolve with technology, there is a need to use mobile phones for education. It is unavoidable.
“The ministry will have to ensure accessibility for all students including B40 students if a decision is made to allow mobile phones in school,” he said.
SMK Cochrane and SMK (P) Bandaraya PTA chairman Faizal Mohammad Arshad said there must be careful consideration and close engagement between the ministry, parents, community, school administrators and teachers before any decision is made.
“Allowing mobile phones will make it easier for parents to communicate with their children now that schools have reopened.
“Although students may misuse their devices and cause distractions during lessons, the devices are beneficial if used to facilitate learning,” he said.
SJK (C) Kota Emerald, Rawang, PTA vice-chairman Ian Chooi said mobile phones can be used to access online information for studies and they can also be used by parents to communicate with their children, especially during emergencies.
He said the home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) shift which was introduced during the pandemic last year resulted in electronic devices like mobile phones becoming an integral part of the education system.
“School authorities must pay extra attention to manage the use of mobile phones in the school compound or they could become a nuisance during lessons,” he said.