It was only a matter of time before the issue of allowing personal cellphones in schools is raised here in Palau. Like many countries in the world today, the concern over use of personal cellphones in schools, particularly in a classroom setting, is growing.

House bill 10-13-1, HD1 introduced in 2017, passed 3rd reading in the House during its 13th Regular Session and sent to Senate 3 years after it was introduced.

The bill seeks to prohibit use of cellphones and other electronic devises during school hours in any school that receives public funding.  This does not prohibit use of such electronics if they are part of “duly authorized programs or other school activities authorized by the school.

The bill states, “with the recent increase in telecommunications technique cell phones and other electronic devices have become essential and omnipresent part of the lives of students and that the use of cell phones and other electronic devises by students in schools has made it increasingly difficult for teachers and administrators to guarantee the successful implementation of the policy set forth.”

Countries such as France, States like Colorado, school districts like Michigan school district or Ontario, Canada have established personal cellphone use ban in schools.  In many other parts of the world including certain States, the subject is still being debated.

Some of the problems raised include student’s distraction just by having the cell phone, reduction of concentration, impairment of student’s cognitive abilities and other learning abilities.  Some parents argue that it is a means of security for parents to be in touch with their children.  Some advocates cite students’ abilities to quickly relay messages such as in the school shooting incidents.  In some cases, students with disabilities manage better in school by utilizing apps available on cell phones argue detractors of this policy.

No formal debate on this subject has taken place here yet. The proposed law was adapted at its 3rd reading in the House and submitted to Senate this January 2020. (L.N. Reklai)