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Opinions of Monday, 29 June 2020

Columnist: Amadu hadi(geolawyer)

Technology in the era of coronavirus: The need to lift ban on the use of mobile phones in SHS

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As shocking, surprising and historical as it may, humanity/mankind may have never thought of a globally affected pandemic that could put all facets of anthropogenic (Human activities on the natural world) into disarray.

In as much as we cannot recount all the devastation and disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic also known as covid-19 to our social, moral, culture and economic life, its moral lessons are unnumbered too. If for nothing at all, we have learned to live a more hygienic life.

The Education sector is one of the badly affected areas of many economies as a result of covid-19 pandemic. And Ghana is no exception. It is almost four (4) months since schools in Ghana were closed down (16th march, 2020). Teaching and learning came to a standstill. Appreciation for technological advancement started surging as many developing countries moved into initiating technological based teaching and learning policies (E-learning programs) to engage students during their lockdown periods.

Even though many efforts are being put in place by governments to enable teachers engage with their students at home, the outcome or feedbacks of these policies seem not to be yielding positively especially in Ghana here where technology and access to electronic gadgets in senior high schools are only confined in the information and communication technology (ICT) labs if any.

But critically observing and studying the unearthing realities influenced by covid-19 and the increasing usage of technology for teaching and learning around the world, I think it is only fair and in good direction and for the first time in many years, ministry of education (MoE) in collaboration with Ghana education service (GES) reviews its policy which prohibits SHS students from using phones on campus.

In fact, the ban must be lifted with an immediate effect

The reasons for placing ban on phone usage by SHS on campus are no more valid in this era of pandemics and global technological competition and must be abolished. One may disagree with me but the reality is that; 1. What were the reasons for the ban? 2. Have we achieved the purpose for the ban? 3. Are the students not using mobile phones on campus? 4. Are they using it for the right purpose? 5. How different are SHS students from other students in tertiary institutions? 6. For how long are we going to keep the ban? 7. Why can’t we allow the students to bring SMART phones? 8. Will teaching and learning become simple and better? 9. Why are other students in other countries using phones? One may see some of the above questions to be ‘CRAZY’ but no matter how crazy they are, they still make some sense.

It will be archaic for one to think and believe that SHS students cannot afford a smart, credit or they might be using them for pornographic materials.

Enough of the negative perceptions about students' use of phones on campus and let us start to appreciate and preach how students can achieve greater academic excellence through these available technological devices at their door-step. Sensitizing and educating students on the importance and better ways to use smart phones on campus to enhance their academic performance will do us good than the ban.

Provision of educationally programmed smart phones either by parents or government will ensure that no student is left out of the ‘technology community’. Guidelines as to how students should handle their phones must be outlined and harsh punishment meted out to students who go dissimilar to the guidelines.

Periodic evaluation and assessment of the phone usage impact should be conducted by school authorities for better policy direction.

We cannot continue to be in a ‘technological handicap’ 63 years after independence and still want to measure our student’s academic performances with global standards.

Teachers and students elsewhere can teach and learn effectively without physically meeting but it is the opposite in Ghana especially in our secondary schools.

Gone are the days when students would only get knowledge from teachers, parents and books. Today, the sources of knowledge have diversified, and one of the ready sources is the internet. There is no doubt that students who are exposed to technology and for that matter internet are smarter than others who are not. With smart phones and internet, students can; learn even when they are out of classroom, students gain more knowledge, quick access to information and answers to questions, widen their understanding of concepts and national issues, make good use of educational Apps. Teachers can also share audio and video lessons to student etc. Our continuous prohibiting students from using phones on campus coupled with inadequate ICT resource centers in our schools and the fact that we are preaching the use of technology in our daily activities will only mean that we are ‘dancing to a song which is yet to be played’

Let us shift from negative to positive. Let us lift the ban. Let us give guidelines. Let us give the students the chance. Let us sensitize them. Let us monitor the usage and evaluate it.

I think when we all do these, the end results will be success.

If other countries are doing it, why can’t we do it too?