WELLINGTON — Cellphones will be banned in schools across New Zealand, conservative Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said Friday (Dec 1), as his fledgling government looks to turn around the country’s plummeting literacy rates.
New Zealand’s schools once boasted some of the world’s best literacy scores, but levels of reading and writing have declined to the point that some researchers fear there is a classroom “crisis”.

Mr Luxon declared he would ban phones at schools within his first 100 days in office, adopting a policy trialled with mixed results in the United States, United Kingdom and France. The move would stop disruptive behaviour and help students focus, Mr Luxon said. “We are going to ban phones across New Zealand in schools. We want our kids to learn and we want our teachers to teach,” he said.

Researchers from New Zealand charity Education Hub warned of a “literacy crisis” in 2022, finding more than one-third of 15-year-olds could barely read or write.

Mobile phone school ban: As New Zealand becomes latest country to prohibit smartphones in schools, which other nations have imposed a ban? Will Scotland follow?
Now New Zealand is the latest country to ban mobile phones in schools in a bid to improve behaviour and children’s mental health.

In countries including France and Italy, there is already a national ban on phones in schools. France brought in the new policy five years ago, which outlaws the use of phones, tablets and smart watches in primary and junior schools – until pupils are around 15 years old and enter the high school, or lycee. In Italy, teachers collect students’ smartphones at the beginning of the day, while the Netherlands is going to introduce the ban next year.


Image courtesy Kids News

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