World-renowned Finnish education expert, Dr Pasi Sahlberg, has called for smartphones to be banned at primary schools.
Dr Sahlberg said the distraction brought on from using smartphones in the classroom is behind Australia’s slide down the global PISA rankings table.
In February, Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, called on all Australian schools to ban the use of smartphones in classrooms, saying they were a “distraction to learning”.
“Those running school systems need to lead from the front with firm policies that ensure the problem isn’t just left to hardworking teachers and principals,” Birmingham said.
“Access to phones can be a difficult issue for schools, as it is for parents, which is why clear policies and support to keep distractions out of the classroom are essential.”
Dr Sahlberg – who will soon become a professor of education policy at the Gonski Institute for Education, University of NSW – told Fairfax that schools need to “react very quickly” to cope with the issue.
“Smartphones don't belong in primary schools or young children under 12. For the sake of fairness and equity, [banning them in early years] would be the best thing to do,” he said.
To help students avoid becoming distracted, Dr Sahlberg said schools should teach them self-control in the context of limiting smartphone use to a healthy level.
“We should teach all children safe, smart and responsible use of technology. Every school in their own way,” he said.