Singapore

Long confiscation of phones not uncommon in schools here


Most schools here impose strict rules on mobile phone usage in class, given that they can be a major source of distraction, and students may easily misuse phones for other purposes like circulating banned content in class.

If students break these rules, it is not uncommon for their phones to be confiscated.

And yes, they can be kept by the school for a few months.

Repeat offenders may even have their phones retained for the remainder of the school year, a check by The Straits Times on 10 schools found.

The issue of mobile phone usage in schools has come under the spotlight after it was reported on Tuesday that a parent had sued the principal of Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) for damages after his son's phone was confiscated.

The parent had also argued that the mobile phone, which belonged to him, should be returned immediately.

DISPROPORTIONATE

The student's father had said that keeping the phone for three months was "disproportionate" to his son's offence in March of using an iPhone 7 during school hours.

The parent's application for the phone to be returned immediately was dismissed by the judge, who said the principal was simply following the rules.

The suit for damages has not concluded.

Sales director Michelle Tan, 48, who has a son in Secondary 3 in the same school, said that she, along with other parents with children in the school, stood by the principal's decision to enforce the rules.

DISTRACTION

"(It is) an excellent way to minimise distraction and temptation," said Ms Tan, adding that teachers had reminded students of the penalties for offences, which are also listed in the students' handbook.

Mr Lee Keng Siang, 21, who studied in ACS (Barker Road), said he had his phone confiscated by the school on three occasions, each time for three months.

But he said that not having access to his phone helped him to focus on school work.

"We accepted the harshness of the punishment if teachers were to catch us using our phones during school hours," said Mr Lee, who is waiting to enter university.

A spokesman for ACS (Barker Road) said the rule has been in place for more than 10 years, and has been communicated to all students and parents.

"It has served as an effective deterrent against the misuse of handphones," he said, adding that the school is unable to comment further given that the case is pending before the courts.

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

Secondary SchoolMINISTRY OF EDUCATION (MOE)ITE