Education authorities in the country have been advised to consider using the social media networks and cellular phones as teaching aids rather than putting a ban on their use during school hours.
This advice was availed by the deputy minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa to the education authorities at a UNESCO consultation meeting held in the capital last week.
Simaata said the education authorities in the country should, instead of banning cell phones from schools, rather formulate policies for the effective use of these handy commodities.
He cautioned the education authorities to not fight against technology as they will never win.
The deputy minister advised the education sector to embrace and maximise on the technology that is at their disposal and get solutions to the challenges they are faced with.
“Just introduce correct policies and applications and make good use of the cell phones in schools,” he recommended, adding that parents, learners and teachers can effectively communicate using cell phones on issues that concern education. As a former teacher himself, the deputy minister also urged the schools to take full advantage of the Information Communication Technology (ICT) by opening the computer laboratories at various schools that are there to only gather dust.
The minister who is also the chairperson of Unesco Namibian National Commission went ahead to advise the schools to encourage learners to join the social network, Facebook, “I recently joined it and my children disapproved it first.” He added that the platform can be used to form learning groups where projects, assignments as well as other tasks are shared amongst students.
“-I know it is a radical proposal but it is worth looking into,” the minister said, adding that; “If we form groups to discuss football, politics and many other issues on Facebook, why not use it effectively for education?”
The Villager approached some of the high schools in the capital to find out their take on the minister’s call. Eldorado High school’s Principal, Hansie Hendricks rejected the call outright and said, “The Education Ministry is about to assist in funding the monthly internet connection and once that is operational, there would be no need to allow cell phones in schools.”
He added that cell phones are usually associated with negative influences at schools such as lack of concentration during classes and the distribution of unwanted, sometimes explicit material among the learners. He complained that those who do not have a cell phone and others with low quality devices feel demoralised and it creates a social divide amongst the learners.
The principal of Hochland High, Ndamona Nehoya said her learners do not need cell phones during the school hours, “In case of emergencies, we use the school phone as the use of cell phones is always compounded with problems. Nehoya protested that the learners use the cell phones to plagiarise during exams and/or assignments; to get involved in pornography and to make undesirable contacts, which usually end in fights.
“We are in the process of upgrading the computer laboratories and once that process is over, we will not need cell phones within the school premises.”