Jones gives update on cellphone policy

The Ministry of Education’s cellphone policy is not likely to be ready for implementation at the very start of the new school year, but Minister of Education, Ronald Jones says it is only a matter of time before it comes to fruition.

The Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister has revealed work is ongoing to get the document completed and approved. He made the comments just yesterday as he spoke at a press conference at the Democratic Labour Party’s headquarters to launch the e-version of the 62nd Annual Conference document.

“It will not be rolling out on September 1st. There are two officers in the Ministry that are tidying it up, dotting I’s and crossing T’s, but it also has to go to the Committee of Governance, a sub-committee of Cabinet to ensure that there isn’t anything in there that conflicts one side over the other. And obviously we would ask the Office of the Attorney General to look at the various positions to ensure that they are complementary to each other, both the cellphone policy and the Internet policy,” he stated.

Speaking to The Barbados Advocate after the launch, he indicated that once the policy, which should go to the Governance Sub-Committee within another week or so, has been approved, students will be educated about their rights, privileges and responsibilities relative to the use of technology in schools. As such, he said the existing policy, which currently bars the use of cell phones in schools, remains in place for the time being.

Minister Jones told the media earlier in the press conference that Cabinet has recently given approval to the software management system for schools and to put a new student information management system in place.

“But the policy itself will not be ready for the 1st of September. The society has had a lot of debate and I am conscious of this, but at the same time I am aware of its effective use as a tool within the classroom. I am also aware that in the wider society, there is substantial misuse of the technologies; social media is one of those things. That’s a technology in itself and it is so badly misused by persons in our society, that it is awful. All kinds of rubbish is now placed on the various social media programmes… I believe it is mindboggling and people who should otherwise focus on a developmental agenda, on moving themselves out of their current state, would spend that level of time in such mischief and silly behaviour and promoting violence,” he said.

Despite the negatives, he said the Ministry is committed to utilising mobile and other smart technologies wherever it can aid students in advancing their learning. He made the point as he noted that the Caribbean Examinations Council for example, has been making tremendous use of e-learning and e-assessment tools and he warned that if Barbados does not move in tandem with such efforts, we will be left behind.

“The modern world demands that students should not wait two weeks to get an answer on a Maths quiz, or English quiz; those days are gone. There should be instantaneous response to the production of my work, which means I am in a better frame of mind right at the moment to go through the self-correction, self-analysis and self-improvement to make my learning better,” the minister added. (JRT)

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