School heads blasted for blocking cell phone use in schools

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

A HARARE based Morgan Zintec College principal has accused school heads of frustrating efforts towards information communication technology (ICT) based learning in the country through banning learners from bringing cell phones to schools.

There has been a raging debate in the country on whether cell phones should be allowed in schools, with those opposed to the idea arguing this will lead students astray while those holding contrary views say smartphones are progressive as they promote research in class.

Addressing school heads at the National Association of Secondary Heads (Nash) conference in Victoria Falls on Wednesday, Dr Tonderai James Zendah urged the country’s education authorities to loosen up and allow teachers and learners to use smartphones in class.

He said this will promote a blended education system premised on research and technology as well as impart soft skills on pupils in line with the skills based curriculum.

“We have a situation whereby pupils are searched when they board buses to go to school because we want to make sure they don’t carry smartphones. We as headmasters brag to our colleagues about how strict we are on this issue not knowing that we are being enemies of progress,” said Dr Zendah.

He said pupils and teachers should be allowed to use cell phones in class for learning purposes.

“Let us not stifle technology. I prefer we move a gear up and allow cell phones in school but probably those with a specific software.

He accused some school heads of punishing teachers for using smartphones in class when the gadget is a micro-computer and ideal for development of soft skills and appropriate technology.

Zendah said some school heads were only concerned about maintaining order and waste time monitoring sitting arrangements in class, thereby discouraging learners from enjoying a liberalised knowledge seeking environment.

Government has over the years been equipping schools with computers although some are lying idle due to lack of electricity and internet connectivity in the learning institutions.

Potraz last year reported that about 70 percent of schools have access to computers, 44 percent have access to mobile phones with only 22 percent accessing internet.