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Immobile schools

According to the official version, there has been an increase in the number of students who use mobile phones on campus.

Statesman News Service |

Discipline has been upheld. Thus, the decision to ban the use of mobile phones in the Navodaya Vidyalayas, run by the Centre, will be generally welcomed not the least because it is effectively a ban on a distraction over which the school authorities have hitherto been pretty much helpless. The order will apply to classrooms as well as hostels, the latter injunction perhaps a tad harsh. According to the official version, there has been an increase in the number of students who use mobile phones on campus. The Centre has eventually cracked the whip and the letter to the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti’s regional offices is decidedly explicit. It states, “Mobile phones may act as a breeding ground for cyberbullying and inappropriate use of social media. Use of mobile phones distracts students from studies and the Vidyalayas’ daily routine”. The school authorities have been directed to inform parents about the decision. Of course, the aberration in the classroom could not have persisted without parental concurrence.

The Centre’s letter dwells on both the distraction in course of the search for learning and health in general. “Parents should be told that use of mobile phones at a young age can result in addiction to gaming sites, betting sites, unhealthy content and psychological disorders in addition to health issues linked to vision, growth and arthritis”. The Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti has sought undertakings from parents and students every year that cellphones will not be used on campus. The principals should approach telecom service providers to know about active mobile numbers on campus. If a student is found possessing a mobile phone, it should be treated as an act of indiscipline, and action taken accordingly. The use of cellphone has spread to almost all students, who use them to chat and for online gaming.

The principal casualty is the process of learning and concentration, indeed the raison d’etre of a school. It has been argued that the pandemic-induced online classes had given a spurt to the habit of chatting late into the night. The ban ought to lead to a better teaching-learning environment as the cell- phone is primarily a source of distraction, not merely for the student concerned but the classroom on the wider canvas. No less disturbing are the mobile phones in the schools of Kolkata; in many institutions, the gadget has replaced the conventional school bell that over time had become integral to the school’s schedule. Both the iconic gong and the electronic bells are now silent, most particularly in the affluent institutions. Even teachers time their classes on their mobile phones, which they are known to carry to the classrooms on “silent mode” and keep on their desks. It’s time for a paradigm shift in schools where the mobile phone has become almost a part of the uni-form. Knowledge must be imbibed without distraction.