Japanese schools permit mobile phones. But only for emergencies

The Osaka prefectural government on Feb. 18 has announced a draft revision to the guidelines that would allow public elementary and junior high school students to bring cellphones to schools and use them during emergencies and disaster situations.


Education minister Masahiko Shibayama told reporters at a news conference on Feb. 19, when asked about the plan for Osaka schools, that the ministry will now review its guidelines on cellphones in schools. Currently, they forbid elementary and junior high school students from having mobile phones at school, and prohibit high school students from using them on campus.


photo credit to: https://www.treehugger.com


According to a 2008 survey done by the ministry, more than 90 percent of public elementary and junior high schools banned the students from bringing mobile phones, in principle. As for high schools, while about 20 percent forbid their students from bringing them on campus, most high schools prohibit them from using the devices in the schools and during classes.


When a powerful earthquake shook the area around northern Osaka Prefecture in June 2018, which occurred around the same time as students were going to school, parents expressed their concerns.


As a result, the prefectural government started leaning toward allowing elementary and junior high school students to bring their mobile phones to school, which is banned in principle, as a means of communicating during emergency situations.


On Feb. 18, the Osaka prefectural government released a draft of proposed guidelines to the 43 municipal boards of education in the prefecture. The draft states that students would not be permitted to use the devices while going to and returning home from school except for security or disaster prevention purposes.


Each municipal board of education will now make their own assessment about allowing students to bring their cellphones with them to school. Even if allowed, those boards of education will decide whether to follow the draft guidelines made by the prefectural government or revise them, and also the timetable for implementing the new policy.


Reference: Osaka schools to allow students to bring cellphones for emergency


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