School phone ban aims to boost grades

Updated: Apr 13, 2021 China Daily Print
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A teacher in Huaian, Jiangsu province, explains the rules concerning the classroom smartphone ban in China's schools. ZHAO QIRUI/FOR CHINA DAILY

Many students have welcomed the ruling after seeing their class work improve. Zou Shuo reports.

After confiscating three smartphones from the same student, Yu Liangliang, head teacher at a high school in Wuhan, Hubei province, decided to give the girl a twoday suspension to reinforce a classroom ban on the devices.

"The first time I took her smartphone, she told me she would not bring one to school again, but she broke the promise twice and I had to take stricter measures," Yu said.

The move is in line with a ruling by the Ministry of Education, which issued a total ban on smartphone use in classrooms at all primary and secondary schools at the start of the spring semester.

If students have a genuine need for a smartphone at school, a special request must be submitted to the authorities along with the written consent of their guardian, the ministry said.

If the request is approved, the student must hand in their smartphone upon arrival. Schools should also put further measures in place to better meet students' needs to reach their parents by phone while on campus, the ministry said.

Yu said he has brought in a number of punishments for smartphone use during class. They range from a warning to a reduction in performance scores, from calling parents into school to suspension.

"Even with the ban in place, it is hard to manage smartphone use because teenagers are not keen on following rules," he said. "Without the ban, the ringing and buzzing of phones would be commonplace during class."

Students play with their smartphones during an activity in Zhengzhou, Henan province. WANG WEI/FOR CHINA DAILY

Lost opportunity

Liao Yasong, a second-year high school student in Changsha, Hunan province, said excessive smartphone use during middle school robbed her of the opportunity to attend the city's best high school.

The 17-year-old first got a smartphone when she was in primary school, but when she went to middle school her grades gradually fell as she spent a lot of time playing with the device and neglecting her studies.

"I was in the top five in my primary school class, but in middle school I fell to the lower rungs as I had poor self-control and wasted too much time on my phone," she said.

The habit continued at high school. Although smartphones were banned, Liao often brought hers to class and could always find ways to play with it without the teacher noticing. Her deception was uncovered during last semester's final exams when her phone suddenly started to ring.

"The teacher called my parents and I started to quarrel with my father. One thing led to another and my father smashed the phone in front of me to show his frustration," she said. "I would not let him have that satisfaction, so I picked it up and smashed it much harder than he did."

The phone shattered into pieces, and the incident was a wake-up call for Liao.

Now, she does not bring her smartphone to school and works much harder at her studies. As a consequence, her grades have improved.

"I let my phone hinder my chances of enrolling at a good high school. That will not happen again, and I will go to my dream university," she said.

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