The Controversy Surrounding Smartphone Bans in Schools, Cambodia
In recent times, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport in Cambodia has taken a bold step by issuing a directive to ban smartphones in classrooms and on school premises. This decision has sparked a lively debate, with supporters arguing that it could boost students’ cognitive abilities by reducing screen time, while opponents stress the educational potential and technological importance of mobile devices. Let’s explore the various perspectives on this contentious issue.
Hatha Vat, a concerned parent in Banteay Meanchey province, firmly supports the directive, emphasizing the detrimental impact of excessive smartphone usage on students. He highlights the dual nature of smartphones, acknowledging their usefulness but also their potential for misuse, such as for gaming and social media, which can hinder academic progress. Vat believes that restricting phone use within classrooms is a positive step to reinvigorate students’ minds.
On the contrary, Ouch Thea, a resident of Phnom Penh, believes that the directive might not fully acknowledge the role smartphones play in modern education. He argues that in today’s digital age, smartphones can be valuable tools for students, providing access to global information and enhancing their knowledge. Thea’s Grade 6 son, for instance, uses a smartphone to access news from around the world, expanding his horizons beyond expectations.
Soy Chantha, another resident of Phnom Penh, supports the directive, emphasizing that students have ample opportunities for smartphone use outside of school hours. He believes that classroom time should be dedicated to acquiring knowledge from teachers and that smartphones can be a distraction during these crucial learning moments. However, Chantha also acknowledges the positive aspects of smartphones when used for educational purposes.
Pen Touch, a teacher at Angchot Secondary School, sees the directive as a valuable tool to enforce school policies effectively. He notes that despite teachers’ reminders about using phones for educational purposes, students often deviate from this guidance. Touch believes that students’ persistent engagement with smartphones during breaks, playing games, or making videos, can disrupt their academic progress, and he hopes they will place a greater emphasis on their studies.
Try Sarath, a teacher at Hun Sen Prey Nop High School, suggests that prohibiting mobile phone usage in primary schools might be advisable, as most primary students use phones for gaming or entertainment. However, he acknowledges that in secondary and high schools, mobile phones can be beneficial for research and sharing information between teachers and students.
Touch Kandal, the principal of Bak Touk High School, explains that the directive complements existing policies and is aimed at enhancing classroom discipline. The school uses a balanced approach and holds meetings with students and parents when guidelines are not followed. Kandal believes that students’ mobile phone use can either support their education through e-libraries or disrupt the learning process if used frivolously.
Vet Mey Mey, a Grade 10 student at Hun Sen Prey Nop High School, supports the directive and believes that students at her school would readily adhere to specific instructions. She highlights that her school maintains a peaceful learning atmosphere by enforcing regulations governing classroom conduct.
Duong Chan Choronai, a Grade 11 student at Hun Sen Pramuoy High School, also supports the directive and refrains from using her phone for gaming at school. She mentions that teachers consistently remind students to limit their phone usage.
Chhot Bunthorng, director of the Institute of Cultural Relations, Education, and Tourism at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, expresses his satisfaction with the restriction on mobile phone usage in class. He believes it promotes responsible device use and improved learning outcomes while keeping students updated with new technologies. Bunthorng emphasizes that students should be proficient in using smartphones and electronic devices wisely to harness their advantages.
In conclusion, the debate over banning smartphones in Cambodian schools reflects the ongoing tension between the perceived benefits and drawbacks of mobile devices in education. While some support the directive for its potential to reduce distractions and enhance classroom discipline, others argue for a more balanced approach, acknowledging the educational benefits smartphones can offer. Regardless of one’s stance, the ultimate goal is to ensure that students use smartphones responsibly and to their advantage while safeguarding their overall well-being and academic progress.