VP Sara Supports Mobile Device Ban in Schools, with Exceptions

VP Sara Supports Mobile Device Ban in Schools, with Exceptions

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Z. Duterte has expressed her support for a legislative measure aimed at regulating the use of mobile devices and electronic gadgets in schools during class hours. The proposal, however, includes crucial exceptions for educational and emergency uses.

The initiative, led by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, is encapsulated in Senate Bill No. 2706, dubbed the Electronic Gadget-Free Schools Act. This legislation seeks to impose restrictions on the use of such devices across all educational levels—from kindergarten to senior high school—and applies to both public and private institutions, including teachers.

The bill was introduced in response to concerns over the distracting influence of electronic gadgets on students during class hours. Insights from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2022 underscore the urgency of the situation, revealing that 80% of 15-year-old learners find smartphones distracting during academic activities. Additionally, the prevalence of cyberbullying associated with unrestricted gadget use has fueled the push for regulation.

Under the proposed guidelines, the Department of Education is tasked with establishing a framework that ensures the effective implementation of the ban. However, it acknowledges the potential educational benefits of technology, specifying exceptions where gadget use is necessary for learning, teaching, or during emergencies.

Vice President Duterte, speaking at the 126th Independence Day celebration, highlighted the balanced approach of the bill. “We’re okay with the banning of gadgets for personal use, subject to exceptions,” she stated, emphasizing the need for regulations that do not hinder educational advancements or critical communication needs.

Senator Gatchalian has championed the bill as a means to enhance the academic environment, aiming to shift focus away from digital distractions towards more engaging and effective learning experiences. By reducing gadget use, the bill also aims to tackle the indirect effects such as cyberbullying, which has been an increasing concern in schools.

As the bill progresses through the legislative process, its provisions will be scrutinized and potentially modified to best meet the needs of Filipino students and educators, ensuring that technology serves as a tool for enhancement rather than distraction.