JIS News

Minister of Education, Andrew Holness has emphasised that he fully supports the view that the use of cellular phones in classrooms should be banned.
Speaking at the official launch of the new school year at Decarteret College in Mandeville, Manchester, on September 28, the Minister said the Ministry of Education had started discussions with stakeholders on how to regulate the use of cell phones in schools.
He pointed out that when the use of technology grows faster than the society’s ability to develop appropriate etiquette to govern its use, then its leaders need to take action.
“It is not our intention to take away your constitutional rights to have this technology, but when that right impacts upon the rights of others to learn in peace, then clearly we have grounds on which to act,” the Minister said.
Mr. Holness said the ban on cellular phone use in the classrooms would form a major part of the safety in schools campaign.
“When parents send their children to school, they want to know that no harm will come to them and it is our duty (the Ministry), to ensure that we keep that commitment,” he said.
Students have been robbed of cellular phones by criminals, and just recently a student in western Jamaica was robbed of his phone and murdered.
The Minister said he was quite aware that this was part of a wider social problem of the society, but the Ministry had spent a lot of time examining several measures to deal with the issue of safety in schools. “I’ve often said that the society must reach the point where we draw a line in the sand and say the schools must be safe, criminals do not enter or there will be serious sanctions against you,” he stressed.
Mr. Holness explained that several partners in education have been examining strategies to deal with safety in schools. These include the Education Transformation Team at the Ministry, the Jamaica Teachers’ Association and the Ministry of National Security.
“The Ministry will now have to mandate that school Boards, when they meet to plan for the year that security is on that agenda and we will provide you with some assistance as the business of security is a complex one,” he said.
The Minister also called on communities around the schools to play a greater part in ensuring the safety of school children.
Mr. Holness commended the strategies implemented by the last administration in implementing the safe schools programme, and promised that he would strengthen and improve on it.