Researchers at the University of Cape Coast have called for a national policy on responsible mobile phone use in pre-tertiary educational institutions by both teachers and students.
According to them, their study into the use of mobile phones in class has revealed that even though mobile phones are very valuable resources, their use by students and teachers during instructional hours could be counter-productive.
The researchers said their findings after piloting some guidelines for responsible mobile phone use by students and teachers in some basic and Senior High Schools in Ghana.
In all, 15 schools were used for the pilot project after the research and posters were made by the researchers in the piloted schools with the inscription, “do not answer calls in class” and “to avoid reducing time for lessons, do not pick calls in class” among others.
Teachers who attempted receiving and making calls during instructional hours were constantly reminded by either the students or the inscriptions on the posters.
A lead researcher on the project, Prof. Albert Abane with his team says, a national policy on the responsible use of mobile phones to ensure that contact hours are not lost will be the ultimate aim of the project.
“Our aim is to ensure the responsible use of mobile phones in our schools. We will speak with the Ministry of Education and the GES; we want a reduction in the interferences during classes hours as minimal as possible,” he explained.
Prof. Abane explains, the aim of the research is not to ban the use of mobile phones in schools but to regulate their use in order not to interfere with instructional hours.
“We are championing the responsible use of them by teachers and perhaps, students,” he noted.
The findings, according to him, were from a bigger research but it was in the 15 schools that the pilot on the guidelines on responsible phone use was done.
He explained that they wanted to know whether the findings they have made and the subsequent guidelines they have drawn were relevant, hence the piloting in the schools.
Some heads of schools whose schools served as pilots backed the research and called for a policy to fashioned around it. Although the researchers say a total ban on the use of mobile phones in schools is not good, the heads of schools want such a ban.
One of the heads made the following observations:
“As soon as we started pasting the posters, the pupils got curious and came closer. At first, my impression was that they were just looking at the pictures. But later when I got closer to them, I realised they were rather discussing the messages … the one about the teacher has created an awareness among teachers and pupils alike.”
“As soon as a teacher’s phone rings in class, the pupils will make gestures that suggest that the teacher is going contrary to the rule. So, even the teacher will not feel fine. I think that particular poster speaks a lot about responsible use of the mobile phone,” another headmaster remarked.
The researchers received funding and support from their partners in the UK, Malawi, South Africa and Ghana.