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Should Victoria’s ban on mobile phones in class extend to all states?

The federal education minister wants other states and territories to replicate the decision Victoria's public schools have taken. But what do parents, students and teachers have to say about it?

The federal government will seek support from all states and territories to follow Victoria's lead in banning mobile phones during school hours.

All Australian states and territories will be asked to ban students from using mobile phone during school hours.

The proposal follows Victoria's decision to ban phones at public schools from next year in an effort to tackle cyberbullying and distraction in the classroom.

In a meeting of education ministers from all states and territories, Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said he welcomed Victoria's decision and hoped all other states and territories follow suit because phones are a distraction in the classroom.

In this regard, SBS Punjabi spoke with various stakeholders in this decision, from states other than Victoria.

Brisbane-based Maninder Singh Pasricha has been teaching mathematics in Australia’s schools since the last 23 years. He teaches students of Year 11 and 12 and is completely in favour of mobile phones being banned from classrooms.

“What purpose does a mobile phone serve inside the classroom? Students only waste their time and energy on social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. They have their iPads for researching academic material, so at best, a mobile phone is a distraction,” said Mr Pasricha who vouches for the success his older students have achieved when there were no mobile phones in the classroom.

Reema Randhawa, a mother of three school-going children, works in a government-run mental health organisation.

In favour of the ban, she speaks from experience when she warns of mental health issues that may arise from social media anxiety.

“I work as a Governance and Executive Support Officer in Western Sydney Mental Health Services. I work with psychologists and psychiatrists and can foresee students being treated for social media anxiety in the near future. Because all that they do with their phones is use Snapchat and Instagram, which is making them increasing body-conscious as their peers indulge in body-shaming,” says Ms Randhawa.

However, she does insist on school-going students carrying mobile phones for purposes of communication with parents, especially those who work.

“I need to know whether my children are safe after school or not. The weather can be a concern at times, so I need to know if it’s safe for them to walk back home or do I need to arrange transport for them by contacting my friends. For this, they must have their mobile phones before and after class,” she elaborates.

Aman Singh is a second generation Indian-Australian who resides in Sydney. She was born, brought up and educated in Australia. She now has two school-going daughters.

SBS Punjabi asked her to compare her classroom experience with that of her children.

“I can’t be happier when it comes to replacing technology with real educational aids in my children’s school life. When I tell my daughter to remember a route from one place to another, she comes back and says the GPS will do that. We grew up with reading street directories in Australia! We remembered phone numbers by heart. What will these kids do if something goes wrong with the internet? As an HR manager, I write my executive summaries myself, but the university students I train, rely on their smartwatches for that,” rues Ms Singh who often trains fresh university graduates.

Amongst various stakeholders, this decision will impact students the most. To understand what students think about the proposed ban on mobile phones inside classrooms, SBS Punjabi spoke with Aafreen Randhawa, a Sydney-based school student.

“My friends mostly use their mobile phones for Snapchat and Instagram, not for researching study material. I’m not much of a mobile phone user but I need it before and after class to stay in touch with my parents,” says Aafreen, a student of Year 9 in Glenwood High School, Sydney.


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