The Mobile Phone and the Girl Child - Which way in this era of technology?
St. Josephs Secondary School (Chivuna) is a Catholic Mission Boarding School for girls located in the Southern Province of Zambia. The school has a brilliant track record in the provision of education for the girl child and has educated a lot of its students up to university entrance level due to its excellent education curriculum.
However, towards the end of May 2013, five (5) grade 11 pupils at the institution were expelled from the institution for being in possession of mobile phones. The expelled students were neither using the mobile phones during classes nor during study time but were in the laundry room doing their laundry. The girls did not disrupt any of the school activities as some were just charging their phones which they mostly use to communicate with their parents when the need something or are not feeling well health wise.
The school administration, however, argue that the expulsions were made in good faith as the school has its own rules and had signed agreements with the parents of the pupils at the school that mobile phones would not be allowed at he school. Much as the school has rules, I am personally of the view that the school administration should have had a grievance procedure in place where the pupils were warned and the phones repossessed until the end of the term. The parents of these girls cannot be held responsible for the pupils action as mobile phones cost as little as US$10.00 which the girls probably used from their pocket money for the school term. In view of the above, I question whether the school administration made the right decision to expel the students as expulsion has a negative effect on the girls psychologically and also disrupts their education which in turn impacts on their future.
We have to face it that times have changed and the mobile phone has become an essential tool in our day to day lives. Even teachers at the school receive phone calls during classes which they excuse themselves to take during classes which in my view is wrong and yet they still maintain their jobs. The school should put in place a rule were phones are only allowed outside class hours which i have seen happening in other schools around the country. The girls should be re-instated in the school and given a warning as we are sure that a lesson has been learnt from this experience. I wonder how many of us would lose our jobs if this rule was put in place in the workplace as we take personal calls even during working hours. The Ministry of Education through the Minister of Health, the District Education Officer and other senior government officials must surely intervene in this unjust matter that impacts negatively on the girls future as it will be difficult for them to finds places in other schools. The school administration is also not being truthful in this matter as they are trying to make it look like the pupils have requested to be transferred from the school when in fact they have been expelled. To err is human and to forgive divine. Being a christian institution, i would have expected that this would have been the first principle the head teacher and her disciplinary committee would have taken into consideration as opposed to treating the students like they have stolen property belonging to the school or worse still sneaked in men into the school dormitories or even went out of bounds to go and get drunk. Let us practice what we preach as it is no fault of these girls that times have changed and technology for them to communicate with the outside world is now available. Some people might argue that the phones might be used negatively but what about the positive elements that come with using a phone such as quick access to information through the internet. Having a phone is no crime and we earnestly appeal to the school authorities to seriously consider the petition by former pupils, parents and friends of the school for these girls to be re-instated. The petition can be found at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/871/119/537/the-expulsion-of-five-elevent... . Please let me know your thoughts on this matter by either commenting or writing to me directly at email@example.com. If you feel that the school administration went overboard in their decision, we invite you to please sign the petition at the link above.
Michael Gwaba 2013