• 03 FEB 21
    • 0

    China just issued a full ban on phones in schools

    From the Inkstone online newsletter a digest of China-focused stories providing unvarnished insight into a rising superpower.

    Feb 3, 2021 by Mandy Zuo

    Effective immediately, China’s Ministry of Education said the ban would apply to all school children.

    Chinese authorities have banned cellphones in classrooms and school grounds effective immediately in an effort to protect students from digital addiction and save their eyesight.

    The ban will apply to all schoolchildren across the country.

    Chinese students will only be allowed to bring a mobile device to school only under special circumstances. However, during class, all devices would be surrendered to the teachers, said the ministry on its website on Monday.

    Aimed at “protecting the students’ eyesight and making them focus on study,” the ministry’s new rule strived to prevent student addiction to the internet while enhancing their physical and psychological development, the directive detailed.

    From a total of 175 million internet users under the age of 18 that China recorded in 2018, 74% had their own mobile device, according to a report released by the China Internet Network Information Center last year.

    The report found mobile users in this group used their devices mostly for online study, listening to music and playing games.

    The ministry also announced that teachers would be forbidden from using cell phones to designate homework and to ask students to finish the homework on their devices. The practice had been gaining in popularity in recent years.

    Schools were ordered to establish more public payphones and to find other ways to talk to parents without relying on mobile devices.

    Smartphone use in schools has ignited debate regularly in China from parents and advocacy groups concerned about young people’s digital addiction.

    However, Liu Yanping, principal of First Branch of Beijing National Day School, said it was unwise to use for authorities to use a “one size fits all” system.

    Liu argued that while it was acceptable to forbid primary school children from taking cell phones to schools because they lacked self-discipline, older students should be allowed to work out an acceptable time spent on devices with their parents.

    “You can’t simply cut them away from the internet in the digital times,” Liu said.

    She said to tackle eyesight problems and addiction issues, authorities should reduce students’ academic burden to allow them to have more spare time to exercise.

    “Smartphones are not the top thing to blame,” she added.

    Wu Hong, a researcher at Dett, an education think tank based in Chongqing, in southwestern China, echoed Liu’s sentiments that it was unrealistic to solve the problem by ordering young people to stop using mobile devices.

    “Instead of prohibiting it, schools should spend more time cultivating the kids’ ability to self-manage by teaching them to tell the difference between real and virtual worlds; between good and bad,” said Wu.

    But the latest education directive has attracted significant support.

    In a survey by thecover.cn published on Weibo, 54% of over 1,900 respondents said they believed it was unnecessary for school children to take phones to schools, while more than 25% wanted a more flexible policy. 20% said they should be allowed on campus.

    Cell phone use in schools has not only ignited debate in China but also in countries such as France and Greece.

    In 2018, the French government passed a law banning cell phones inside school grounds for those under the age of 15, with the law passing 62 votes to one.

    Greece followed suit, prohibiting their use in all nursery, primary and middle schools from September 2018.

    Link to article here

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