National

Tokyo to allow students to bring smartphones to school

JIJI

Tokyo’s Board of Education said Thursday it has decided to allow students at metropolitan junior high and high schools to bring their mobile electronic devices, including smartphones, to school.

For elementary and junior high schools run by cities and other municipalities in the capital, the decision will be left up to each board of education.

Until now, mobile devices were banned in principle at metropolitan junior high and high schools.

Following the decision, it will be up to each school’s principal to decide whether to permit mobile devices in classrooms.

Schools that decide to lift the ban will draw up guidelines and inform students of their rules on smartphone use.

In Tokyo, some schools have already started allowing the use of smartphones in class on a trial basis.

Furthermore, the metropolitan board started seeing the devices as a useful tool to confirm the safety of students in a disaster situation.

A fiscal 2018 survey by the board found that 97.3 percent of the metropolitan high school students used smartphones.

In its 2009 guidelines, the education ministry banned elementary and junior high school students from bringing mobile devices to school and restricted the use of such devices by high school students at school.

But following a strong earthquake in Osaka Prefecture during the morning commuting hours in June last year, the Osaka Prefectural Government changed its policy to allow students to bring mobile devices to school as a communication tool in an emergency.

In May this year, the ministry established a panel of experts to review its policy.