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Schools in Denmark favour rules on mobile phones

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Schools in Denmark favour rules on mobile phones
File photo: Kasper Palsnov/Ritzau Scanpix
16:33 CEST+02:00
A high proportion of Denmark's schools have chosen to implement rules against smartphones in classrooms, after the government decided against national legislation on the area.

The three parties with the largest number of MPs – the Social Democrats, Liberal (Venstre) party and the Danish People's Party – all said earlier this year that they consider rules on phones at school to be up to local authorities. The former two parties said they were open to a discussion of a national measure on the matter in future, but not at the present time.

Only 12 percent of schools in Denmark now lack rules on mobile phones, according to a series of spot checks by the Ministry of Education.

33 of the 271 schools asked by the ministry said they did not have rules on cell phones in classrooms, while 224 said they did have specific rules. 14 answered ‘other' or ‘don't know' in response to the question.

Minister of Education Merete Riisager said that clear rules were necessary for effective teaching.

“This is very, very positive, because it is clear that calm is necessary in classrooms so that children can learn, while break times should be for company and exercise,” the minister said.

The issue has been discussed in Denmark, one of the world's most digitally-advanced societies, after France earlier this year passed a law banning schoolchildren from taking phones into class.

READ ALSO: How France's mobile phone ban in schools will work (or not)

A previous study by the ministry found that students in colleges and academies were more likely than schoolchildren to be distracted by using their devices in classrooms.

Riisager said that less rigid rules for older students are a possible explanation.

“This is perhaps because students are older, and teachers and lecturers are maybe reticent about making strict rules, but young people also need calm,” the minister said.

23 percent of elementary schools responding to the ministry survey said that they collect students' mobile telephones at the start of the day, while very few further education institutions have such a practice.

Riisager repeated her view that it should be up to individual schools to decide on the rules they wish to apply.

Danske Skoleelever, a politically independent interest organisation for school students in Denmark, said it was against more schools confiscating mobiles at the start of the day.

“Mobile telephones should be used as an active resource in teaching. But that should be done alongside learning about digital behaviour, with lessons about both how to behave (online) and when to put smart phones aside,” the organisation's chairperson Sarah Gruszow Bærentzen told Ritzau.

READ ALSO: Schools can decide own smartphone rules in Denmark: MPs

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