The bold move to allow school students to bring mobile gadgets to school starting from next year is being accepted with mixed feelings. The motion permits the use of devices such as laptops and tablets, excluding mobile phones.
Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the decision to allow the use of portable devices at more than 10,000 schools in the country is in the final stage of discussion.
The current education policy forbids students from bringing electronic gadgets to school.
“Phones are more distracting compared to devices that depend on WiFi or a local area network to connect to the Internet,” said Mahdzir, adding that there will be a time limit on the usage of electronic devices depending on the subject being taught.
A parent from Bandar Baru Uda when met supported the move wholly, relating how technology will assist and facilitate the new generation of learning.
“No more heavy text books when my child can now refer to his laptop for more information available online,” said Norfarhan, a father of two school children aged 8 and 10.
It’s a different story for Siti Noor Aminah of Kampung Pasir, a mother of four school-going kids aged 10 to 16 years old. She questions the monitoring aspects of it and the cost she needs to bear to prepare the gadgets for her four schooling children.
Various parent action groups have expressed support for the plan, though some concerns were raised. Not all students will be able to afford additional electronics for classroom use, and some believe that the government should intervene to ensure that all have equal access to the learning aids.
According to Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Senior Vice-Chairman of Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation, other issues that might arise include an increase of theft and cyberbullying in schools.
“A statistic compiled by CyberSecurity Malaysia indicated that cyberbullying among students is quite serious with 338 cases reported last year compared to 250 in 2012,” he said, adding that a guideline should be placed to ensure students do not abuse the technology by accessing unapproved sites that could affect their minds.