Canada’s most populous province will ban mobile phones in classrooms next year. Ontario’s education Minister Lisa Thompson announced the new policy on Tuesday, after a year of consultations. The ban would apply during LL instructional time, but there would be exceptions for teachers who want to use them as part of a lesson plan, students with special needs and medical reasons.
Many districts have already instituted bans, but this edict would apply to all public schools across the province. “Ontario’s students need to be able to focus on their learning,” Ms Thompson wrote.
“By banning cell phone use that distracts from learning, we are helping students to focus on acquiring the foundational skills they need like reading, writing and math. We will be making a formal announcement in the near future.”
Ms. Thomson said their consultations revealed 97% of parents, educators and stakeholders were in favour of a ban on the distracting devices. The move was praised by many, but some say the ban is antiquated and a missed opportunity to teach children about responsible technology use.
Last summer, French lawmakers have voted to ban the use of mobile phones by pupils in primary and middle schools. The government said the new law would improve concentration in class, while helping to prevent cyber bullying and the viewing of pornography.
Critics, however, say the ban will be difficult to enforce and opposition parties say it is a publicity stunt. The bill was the result of a campaign promise made by President Emmanuel Macron last year.
Members of the National Assembly backed the move in a show of hands on Thursday and it now goes to the Senate. Under the new measures, children up to the age of 15 will have to keep their mobile phones out of sight while on school premises.