Friday, June 14, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Is bringing mobile phones to school really that sacrilegious?

Is the anti-phone policy in educational institutions in direct contradiction to our hopes of a digital future?

Update : 31 Jul 2022, 03:13 PM

I recently started going back to school for my A2 classes, and after a two year-long unsolicited hiatus, my workaholic self has been nothing but stoked to get back to my usual grind. The high did not last long, however, as my parade was masterfully rained upon as soon as I entered the school gates and found myself in trouble for bringing my mobile phone with me.

Due to accessibility and multi-purposefulness, almost every kid of my age owns a smartphone and carries it with them wherever they go. It didn’t occur to me that it should be any different within school premises -- a place where it is supposed to be used.

Let’s forget about the cost and availability of textbooks for a while. Even after barring these factors, the boatload of weight that each student carries on their back every day should make switching to PDFs and e-books a much more reasonable option.

Not every student is privileged with transportation. When I see my financially disadvantaged friend commuting all the way from Gulshan to Mohammadpur with an enormous backpack every morning, and as a result, sweating so much that he needs to carry an extra set of clothes and shoes with him so as to not damage his school shoes from all the walking, I realize how little my school authorities care about its students’ well-being.

I think about how much easier it would have been, had we been allowed to just pull out a PDF document from our phones when we needed to, in class. I think of the money it could have saved us. I look at some of my teachers who no longer walk in with a pile of books in their hands, but rather a multipurpose laptop that is much lighter, and I wonder why the struggles are approached differently when students bring it up. 

Is it because smartphones are distracting?

If it is, then that is probably the most ridiculous excuse to ban smartphones for.

I have had the honour of attending lectures from teachers who were so captivating in class that even if one wanted to, they couldn’t possibly be preoccupied with anything else while the teachers spoke.

I have also attended lectures that were so vapid that I found myself counting the numbers of dirt marks on my classroom walls. That is to say, if one is willing to not pay attention, they shall find a way to do so with or without having a smartphone in their hand.

If the concern is that students will use phones for entertainment, such as media and games, I believe that it is necessary for a scholar to learn self-discipline before anything. Even if I spend my school hours playing Subway Surfers and watching Pewdiepie with friends, there will come a point when I will either grow tired of procrastinating, or be hit with the consequences of my actions -- poor academic results.

It is important for me to recognize that once I grow up, there will be no authority or parent to restrict me from making bad choices. I will need to step up my game and learn self-control. It is one’s responsibility to make sure that they are spending their school hours productively.

Banning smartphones does not ensure productivity, nor does it help with grooming a child to be independent in the future.

Authorities these days seem to love branding themselves as champions of innovation, who proudly hum the chants of "Digital Bangladesh;" however, it is only on paper, as their carol seems to fall flat when it comes to making full use of that digital progress in making the lives of students easier.

But I’m probably writing all these just to be able to make Tiktoks with friends. Whatever.

Sahiba Tasnia Tanushree is an ex outside-goer and a consumer of all kinds of classical music. Please email me good sarod pieces at [email protected]

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