Banning mobile phones in Dutch classrooms is good news, say parents

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Phones are to be banned from secondary school classrooms in The Netherlands because they are too much of a distraction for pupils.

The presence of mobile devices such as phones and smartwatches has a negative effect on students performance, says the government, and it hopes that this new policy will give them ‘every opportunity to learn well’.

An agreement has been reached with the various national school and educational councils for the introduction of the rule from 1 January 2024. Mobiles will only be permitted if they are necessary for learning, for medical reasons or a disability.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science said it would be up to individual schools to decide whether to completely ban devices from the premises, and also to agree on the exact rules with teachers and parents so that ‘everybody knows exactly what is and is not allowed’.

Robbert Dijkgraaf, Minister for Education, said: “Even though mobile phones are almost intertwined with our lives, they do not belong in the classroom. Students must be able to concentrate there and be given every opportunity to learn well. We know from scientific research that mobile phones disrupt this, with all its consequences. We have to protect students against that.”

Minister Dijkgraaf has written to Parliament, giving more information on the national agreements over mobile devices in schools. Click here to read it (in Dutch).

‘Students must be able to concentrate’

The move has been welcomed by parents’ organisations, including Ouders & Onderwijs (Parents & Education), which speaks for parents with children of all school ages. Director Lobke Vlaming has been part of the discussions with government about this issue, and she described the news as ‘a boost for parents’.

“It’s hard for parents to do something on this (issue) alone, to say: ‘you can’t do that, even if your friends can’. We are happy with the collective agreement,” she said, adding that they would have liked it to go further and cover all of the school buildings, not just the classroom.

“Students would then know what they can and can’t do during breaks. But overall, this decision is already a good step. Children are very distracted by mobile phones. Their learning performance decreases and it is more difficult for them to concentrate – the ban on mobile phones will benefit peace,” she added.

Author: Simon Weedy

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