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Initiative calls for ban of smartphones at schools

An initiative has been launched on the portal Manabalss.lv on the ban of smart devices in primary and secondary schools, reports Kurzeme regional television on October 30. Some schools surveyed in Liepāja support such an idea, but there are also opponents.

In Liepaja 5th Secondary School, the use of smart devices is already restricted for younger students. Before the lesson, the phones must be placed in a specially designated box on the teacher's desk.

"In our school, absolutely every classroom has a special place where these phones can be placed. I have to admit that my box has become a place where teachers keep their little things because there has never been a need to take someone's phone away. The student knows – when entering the school the sound is turned off, the phone is in the bag,"says Andra Vilcāne, 3rd grade teacher of Liepaja 5th secondary School.

Pupils surveyed admitted that the phone is often used for both entertainment and learning. Several of them have imposed a social network time limit on their device, some have done it themselves, others times on the advice of their parents.

"I've been put on a time where I can use [the smartphone] two and a half hours every day. I use a little too much and now I go out more, fishing with friends,” Dominiks told TV Kurzeme.

However, in many other educational institutions, smartphones have begun to interfere with the learning process, so Valle Primary School principal Jānis Viegliņš has started collecting signatures on the site Manabalss.lv to get amendments to the Education Law, which would prohibit children from using smart devices in primary and secondary schools.

More than 2,200 people have signed the initiative, but it also has opponents.

“The more you ban, the more they'll want to use [smart devices], the more they'll sit around the corner of the school and play games or communicate,” Sarmīte Sokolovska, a teacher at J. Čakstes Liepāja 10th Secondary School, said.

Schoolgirl Paula also believes smart devices should not be banned completely because there are situations where you need a phone, for example, to let your parents know where you are or if something happened.

For the initiative to be submitted to the Saeima, it needs 10,000 signatures.

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