Sara Duterte favors gadget ban during class hours

Sara Duterte favors gadget ban during class hours
Vice President Sara Duterte visits the Doña Aurora National High School in Baguio City, one of the pilot implementers of the newly rolled out Matatag curriculum.
Facebook / Inday Sara Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte has publicly endorsed a legislative proposal to ban the use of gadgets during class hours, except when these are used for educational purposes.

In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Duterte said that she supports a recently filed bill at the Senate that aims to prohibit the use of mobile devices and electronic devices within school premises during class hours.

“We’re okay with the banning of gadgets for personal use, (but) subject to exceptions. I understand and have read the draft that there are exceptions, particularly if the gadget is used for learning and teaching,” Duterte said in a report by state-run Philippine News Agency.

Senate Bill 2706, or the proposed Electronic Gadget-Free Schools Act, requires DepEd to create and implement guidelines on gadget use in all private and public schools. Under the bill, both students and teachers will be prohibited from using mobile devices and electronic gadgets during class hours.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate basic education panel and author of the bill, said that devices can cause distractions and adversely impact learning, especially among basic education students. Mobile phones can also "mediate involvement in cyberbullying," the senator said.

The bill provides for a number of exceptions, such as during classroom presentation or class-based learning activities; health and well-being-related exceptions such as learners with health conditions who require the use of mobile devices and electronic gadgets; and exceptions related to managing risks such as emergencies, response to perceived threats or dangers, and during field trips or activities outside school premises.

An estimated one out of three Filipino students are bullied in school, according to the 2022 Programme for International Student Assessment, which also found that the problem disproportionately affects boys in public schools more than female students.

The 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report by UNESCO recommends stricter regulation on mobile phone use in classrooms. The report reveals that only 13% of countries have laws banning or partially banning mobile phones in schools, and 14% have policies or guidelines addressing this issue.

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