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A total ban on bringing phones to school? MEiN explains

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In the opinion of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Education Law Act does not allow for a complete ban on bringing electronic devices to school, the ministry spokeswoman said. Research shows, however, that teachers not only confiscate students’ phones, but also decide to review their content.

The issue of students’ use of telephones, tablets and other electronic devices in schools is back in the public debate. On the one hand, more and more teenagers are struggling with Internet addiction, on the other hand, the use of instant messaging by teachers to diversify lessons is becoming more and more popular.

PAP asked Ministry of Education and Science about the use of telephones in schools. Ministry spokeswoman Adrianna Całus-Polak reminded that “according to the applicable legal status, the provisions relating to the rules for the use of electronic devices on school premises are included in the Education Law”.

She explained that pursuant to Art. 99 point 4, schools are obliged to specify in the statute the student’s obligations in terms of compliance with the conditions for bringing to school and using mobile phones and other electronic devices. “The statute should regulate the issues of student rights and the procedure for submitting complaints in the event of their violation, as well as the consequences of students’ failure to comply with the provisions of the statute” – she added.

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Spokesperson of the Ministry of Education and Science: Schools may restrict the freedom to use electronic devices

Całus-Polak pointed out that the Education Law Act creates the basis for limiting the freedom to use telecommunications and electronic devices under the school statute. Thus, as she explained, the statute may provide not only for a ban on the use of mobile phones during classes, but also for the obligation to deposit them in a specific place during a stay at school.

What about electronic devices in schools?Shutterstock

Therefore, solutions in this area may vary depending on the school – from more radical ones, such as a complete ban on the use of such devices at school, to minimally liberal rules.

The statutes of Warsaw high schools contain provisions stating that mobile phones and other electronic devices can be used on school premises, but during educational classes this should be agreed with the teacher or the person conducting the classes. Moreover, it is emphasized that the use of telephones must respect the principles of social coexistence – above all, when it comes to the right to privacy and not infringing on images.

The provisions in the statutes of primary schools are more rigorous – students are ordered to turn off devices for the duration of their stay at school. However, if a student wants to use them, he or she is obliged to arrange this with the teacher or the person conducting the classes. “In the case of arbitrary activation of the device and not complying with the teacher’s instructions, the student may be asked by the teacher to deposit the device for the duration of educational classes in a visible place (e.g. on the teacher’s desk). In addition, the student’s parents will be given a note regarding his behavior” – you can read.

Students on the issue of using phones in schools

In the Polish edition of the “EU Kids Online 2018” study published by Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM, more than half of the students (51.7 percent) indicated that teachers set the rules for using phones at school. “When interpreting this result, we must remember that this is the perception of students. Perhaps it is the case that in most schools such rules are established, but they are not communicated to students and enforced” – the authors reminded.

27 percent of the students surveyed said that teachers check that mobile phones are turned off. A quarter (20 percent) said their phones were taken from them when school rules were broken, and 6 percent of students said they checked their phones to know what students were doing and with whom. The last two answers, in the authors’ opinion, are based on the arbitrary power of the teacher and may involve legal disputes.

READ: Schools are suing tech giants. For “The Mental Health Crisis Among America’s Youth”

The school does not have the authority to prohibit bringing electronic devices

Spokeswoman Adrianna Całus-Polak, asked by PAP about the possibility of introducing a total ban on the use of telephones in schools, indicated that “in the opinion of the Ministry, Article 99 point 4 does not allow for a total ban on bringing electronic devices to school, as it could be considered an excessive restriction of rights owner of the movable. She added that the Ministry of Education does not plan to regulate the use of telephones in schools.

He also presented a similar position regarding the confiscation of telephones Ombudsman still in 2018. “School statutes may prohibit the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices during class. The teacher may order the device to be turned off or placed in a visible place for the duration of the lesson. However, the school does not have the authority to confiscate items belonging to students. Adults or parents minors may at any time demand the return of things belonging to them and held by the school” – emphasized the then Ombudsman Adam Bodnar.

He explained that in the event that the school introduces an obligation to leave mobile phones in the depository for the duration of classes, it is also responsible for the resulting damage. However, an adult student must be able to access the device whenever he/she deems it necessary.

“Even in a situation where a mobile phone has been confiscated in accordance with school rules, viewing its content by third parties, for example teachers, is a violation of the right to privacy and as such is against the law” – assessed the Ombudsman.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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