Friday 17 November, 2017

Ministry not 'rushing' cell phone policy

FILE - Education Minister Ronald Jones.

FILE - Education Minister Ronald Jones.

No group or person will prevent the Ministry of Education from implementing the pending cell phone policy - nor will there be any rush in bringing it to fruition.

Education Minister, Ronald Jones, made the position of the Ministry clear during a press conference on Wednesday to announce the launch of its Tablets for Schools Programme.

There has been much back and forth on the potential move by the Ministry to lift the ban on cell phones in schools with teachers' unions asking that the policy not be implemented for fear of students misusing the technology.

Jones said the policy is still being considered and finalised and even when it is, the policy still has to be approved by Cabinet before it becomes a reality.

He said, even apart from the logistics, the Ministry will not be dissuaded by “noise” stemming from “ignorance”.

“I’m not here to shake anybody’s trees. We have consultation but we do not wait on anybody to do what we have to do. People will make noise, people will have concerns - of course some if it stems from a high abundance of ignorance relative to the technologies and how they are deployed.”

Jones noted the Ministry was not rushing to see the ban lifted, saying “when it is to happen, it will happen but it will not stop these things from happening”. He suggested that parents and unions not pay so much attention to the negatives associated with cell phone use in schools and acknowledge that cell phones are already very much part of school culture.

He said it was unfair to deny Barbadian children the tools needed to give them a competitive edge in a global world.

“We all compete in the same space, the same exams, the same assessment procedures and we are not going to be pushed back or pushed behind.”

He said the only way to quiet the naysayers was to ensure children are taught how to use the technology in an ethical manner such as what was being done with the partnership between the Ministry and Digicel to implement the safety software, IBM Maas360.

The software, provided by regional ICT provider Digicel Business and its technology partner, IBM, allows the Ministry will have full control of the tablets and how they are used by students.