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Navodaya schools ban use of mobile phones by students

Mobiles may act as a breeding ground for cyber bullying and inappropriate use of social media: Letter
Representational image.
Representational image.

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi   |   Published 04.05.22, 03:43 AM

The central government-run Navodaya Vidyalayas have banned the use of mobile phones by students in schools and hostels after receiving feedback about rampant misuse for late-night chatting and addiction to online games.

The Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) runs nearly 600 residential schools across the country and reserves 75 per cent seats for meritorious students from rural areas. The NVS has sent a letter to its regional offices on the cellphone ban. The letter will be circulated among the schools. The Navodaya Vidyalayas have classes from VI to XII.


According to the letter issued by Gireesh Kumar, assistant commissioner, to the NVS’s regional offices on April 22, there has been an increase in the number of students using mobile phones on campus. “Mobile phones may act as a breeding ground for cyber bullying and inappropriate use of social media. Use of mobile phones distracts students from studies and Vidyalay daily routine,” the letter says.

The NVS has directed the schools to inform parents about the decision.

“Parents should be told that use of mobile phones by students at this young age may result in addiction of gaming sites, betting sites, unhealthy content, addition to social media sites, friendship/attachment issues, psychological disorders in addition to inevitable health issues related with vision, growth, arthritis etc,” the letter says.

The NVS has said that undertakings should be taken from parents and students every year that cellphones will not be used on campus. Students going on leave or returning should be checked for possession of mobile phones and other banned items, the letter says.

If a student is found possessing a mobile phone, it should be treated as an act of indiscipline and action, including suspension or the issuance of a transfer certificate, may be taken, the NVS has said.

The letter has asked the school authorities to check the students’ belongings in the dormitories frequently. If any mobile phone is found, it should be confiscated and returned to the parents with the question why they had not adhered to the policy, according to the NVS.

The principals should approach telecom service providers to know about active mobile numbers on the campus.

A Navodaya Vidyalaya principal who did not wish to be quoted said students might have got into the habit of using cellphones because of the pandemic-induced online classes. In this process, the students may have developed the habit of chatting and online gaming, the principal said.

“It was found that students were chatting online with classmates late into the night. Also, many students have got hooked to mobile games. Although mobiles were not allowed before the pandemic, the rule was never enforced strictly. A few students used to use cellphones secretly. Now the use has spread to almost all students,” he said.

Rahul Singh, general secretary of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Employees Welfare Association, hailed the mobile ban.

“I appreciate and welcome the decision. It will lead to a better teaching-learning environment as mobiles are a cause of distraction among students. Also, the schools have adequate ICT (computer and Internet) facilities and there is no need for students to use mobile phones on campus,” he said.

Each hostel has a teacher in charge who speaks to the parents of each student once every week.

Sudha Acharya, the principal of ITL Public School, a privately managed institution in New Delhi, said mobiles were not allowed in private schools except in cases where parents seek permission for security reasons.

“Some students go to coaching centres after school hours. Their parents request us to allow the children to carry mobile phones. In such cases, the mobiles are deposited with the class teacher after the students reach the school. The students collect the handsets when they disperse,” Acharya said.

A survey by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights last year found an increase in the use of smartphones by school students. The survey found that 94.8 per cent students used smartphones for online learning.

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