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Gadget-free schools bill filed in Senate

MANILA, Philippines — To boost academic performance and prevent cyberbullying, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian is pushing for a measure that will prohibit kindergarten to senior high school students from using cell phones and other gadgets during classes.

Gatchalian has filed Senate Bill 2706 or the proposed Electronic Gadget-Free Schools Act, which seeks to mandate the Department of Education to issue guidelines on the prohibition of electronic gadgets during class hours.

“Aside from a decrease in learners’ academic performance, access to such devices seems to mediate involvement in cyberbullying. That’s why the use of mobile phones and other gadgets must be restricted in school,” Gatchalian said.

He said the guidelines should cover students from kindergarten to senior high school in both public and private educational institutions.

Under the bill, teachers are likewise prohibited from using mobile devices during classes.

Gatchalian admitted that mobile devices can help enhance learning and teaching, but these gadgets may also cause distractions, especially among basic education learners.

Gatchalian cited results of the 2022 Program for International Student Assessment or PISA, which showed that eight in 10 students aged 15 reported being distracted by smartphone use during classes.

The same number of students likewise reported being distracted by other learners’ cell phone use while in class.

PISA results also revealed that distraction due to cell phone use during class is correlated with a decrease in performance of 9.3 points in mathematics, 12.2 points in science and 15.04 points in reading.