‘It is a distraction best avoided’
The Directorate of Collegiate Education (DCE) in Tamil Nadu has issued a circular asking all arts, science and other colleges, coming under its purview, to ban use of cellphones by students on the premises of the institutions.
The circular issued by Director of Collegiate Education R. Sarumathi to all Regional Joint Directors of Collegiate Education (RJD) earlier this month says the ban applies to government, government-aided and self-financing institutions.
The circular states that the decision was made as per the advice of Higher Education Secretary (in charge). Pradeep Yadav, Principal Secretary, School Education Department, was in charge of Higher Education Department (HED) at that time, as Sunil Paliwal, Principal Secretary, HED, was on leave, an official said.
“In co-education colleges, we have received complaints that boys were taking videos and pictures of girl students. Mobile phones are also occasionally used for malpractices during examinations,” the official said.
On even reputed institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology not imposing such restrictions, the official said “the students in such institutions knew how to use mobile phones reasonably.”
Anna varsity example
In 2005, Anna University had introduced a similar ban, but relaxed it subsequently by restricting the usage to classrooms following opposition from students.
The senior official said restricting usage in classrooms will be difficult to enforce. “We expect students to not bring mobile phones to colleges,” the official said.
R. Murali, former Principal of Madura College and State general secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), termed the ban to be “regressive and absurd”. “When mobile phones are becoming an integral part of life for people, irrespective of their economic status, it is highly conservative to ask students not to use them in colleges,” he said. “There can be reasonable restrictions on the usage inside classrooms. But not a total ban,” he said.
Though no deadline has been mentioned, DCE officials said colleges were expected to comply soon after they receive official communication from the Regional Joint Director. While some offices such as the one in Chennai has already forwarded the communication to all colleges, institutions in the Madurai region said that they were yet to receive the communication.
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