KINGSTOWN St. Vincent – Schools here should not necessarily relax their policy on cellphone use but there must be a common-sense application of the rules, says Elson Crick, communication consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Crick made the point on radio last week as he discussed an incident in which officials at a Marriaqua schools confiscated from a student a cellphone that was turned off and inside the student’s bag.
According to the communications specialist, the student’s mother, who was ill, had given her the cellphone to take to school and instructed the student not to turn it on.
The mother, according to Crick’s account, had planned to communicate with the student, via the cellphone, to tell her what to do after class “because the mother is concerned for the safety her daughter”.
“The mother visited the school and explained why the phone was given but, from my research, I understand that the officials at the school are saying, ‘We will give you back the phone but you have to pay a fee.’ That is wrong,” Crick said.
Crick said that parents, who because of particular situations or circumstances, would like to give their children cellphone to take to school should inform school officials.
“… because in today’s society where we live in a lot of foolishness [is] going on. Let us not fool ourselves about that,” he said. “We have to be reasonable and we have to be rational.”
He noted that education officials are against the use of cellphones in schools.
“But, if the phone is in the bag of the child and the phone is off and you have a rational and reasonable excuse from the child or from the parent, tell me what is wrong with that?” Crick said, noting that parents sometimes get caught up in their work and in such situations can use cellphone to contact their children.
“It is called communication and that is vital in those situations there. I hear a lot of things about these things,” Crick said.
“Sometimes the school [is] right, sometimes the parent [is] right, but common sense must prevail,” Crick further stated, adding in dialect, “And it doesn’t any sense we get hot and sweaty and we want to take it out on the children and take it out on the mother.
“No, no, no, let us forget about them nonsense there. I don’t want to go into the details of the incident. It’s not the first one I have heard,” he further said.
“So, there must be some – I don’t want the schools to relax their rules at all but there must be an understanding. There are cases where you can say, ‘Okay, let me be lenient. Let me exercise some restraint. Yes, I will let that happen because I understand the reason’. And we go on from there.
“I don’t want to spend too much time discussion this because I know there are other matters that will impact this and I am making an appeal and those of you who listen out there know what I am taking about. So don’t pretend you don’t know,” Crick further stated.
The issue of student taking cellphones to school made national headlines last year when a daughter of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves got a “zero” after her cellphone rang in an examination room at a secondary school in Kingstown.