Mobile phone safe deposit boxes set in primary and middle schools in Beijing for new semester
Published: Mar 01, 2021 10:57 PM
A student in Beijing Jinyuan School puts his mobile phone into the safe deposit box installed in the classroom on March 1, the first day of the new semester.Photo: Li Hao/GT

A student in Beijing Jinyuan School puts his mobile phone into the safe deposit box installed in the classroom on March 1, the first day of the new semester.Photo: Li Hao/GT

More than 1 million primary and middle school students in Beijing started their new semester on Monday. Many classes have set up mobile phone safes in response to China's Ministry of Education's notice to strengthen mobile phone management among primary and middle school students.

At Beijing Jingyuan School, Shijingshan district, students are required to sign a cell phone commitment with their headteacher and parents, promising not to bring mobile phones to class. Each classroom is equipped with a mobile phone safe deposit box. Students are required to turn off their mobile phones and store them in the safe deposit box when they arrive at school.

Jingyuan School told the Global Times on Monday that most students go to school and go back home by themselves, so they need to communicate with their parents via mobile phones in case of an emergency. Therefore, students are not forbidden to bring mobile phones to school, but it should be managed uniformly in the classroom.

The school said it had already done so last year, but this time there is a specific policy basis.

"I totally support the regulation banning cell phones in the classroom. We have no other better choices. If even we adults can't help but overusing cell phones, how can the children manage achieving the use of cell phones properly," Fan Xiaozhi, whose son is a junior high school student at Asia Pacific Experimental School of Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday.

Whether it be getting addicted to games or harming the child's eyesight, many parents are always worried that excessive use of mobile phones will affect their children's education.

She received the notice from the teacher in the last two weeks; Students who must bring their mobile phones to school, such as boarders, should report to their class teacher in advance. When the mobile phone is brought to school, it is subsequently handed in to the teacher for safekeeping, and can only be retrieved and used when needed or within a specified time.

Fan said her son plays games on his phone and does his homework most of the time. The ban on mobile phones in schools is quite understandable and is supported by him. 

Many parents buy phone watches for primary school students, attracted by the location function for safety. The phone function has to however be turned off during the class now.

A headteacher surnamed Zhao in a primary school in Beijing's Changping district told the Global Times that it is indeed unnecessary for primary school students to have mobile phones. While on campus, they can ask teachers to contact their parents for any emergency. And most primary students have their parents pick them up after school.

"Restriction does not mean that students are not allowed to use mobile phones," Chu Chaohui, a research fellow at China's National Institute of Education Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

The games on mobile phones distract students; the restriction can help them focus more on study in school, he said.

"Only when educational evaluation criteria are diversified, can primary and middle school students have more time and opportunities to carry out outdoor activities, get close to nature and connect with society, instead of relying only on mobile phones to obtain information from the outside world, which is more conducive to enhancing individual autonomy of students," Chu noted.

Primary and middle schools should set up a unified centralized custody system of students' mobile phone facilities and equipment, Beijing Municipal Education Commission announced on February 19 on its official website.

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