HYDERABAD: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has made it obligatory for schools to control and monitor the use of electronic devices by installing effective firewalls, filtering and monitoring software mechanisms, comes close on the heels of the crackdown on the Blue Whale Challenge. The ‘dare-based’ online game in which the final task requires the player to kill self, has reportedly claimed five lives in India and over a 100 around the world.
The circular ‘Guidelines for Safe and Effective Use of Internet and Digital Technologies in Schools and School Buses’ has been issued to all the 18,000 affiliated schools across the country. Schools have also been asked to draft a policy on the safe use of electronic devices and implement it. City schools meanwhile have said that they leave no stones unturned when it comes to the security of students during the school hours. Most schools banned students from bringing smartphones and other gadgets to school.
“We have installed CCTV cameras in the school building and even during transit, there is a teacher in each of our nine school buses. In the computer rooms and audio-visual rooms too, teachers are there to monitor the activities of the students. So there is no way students can do anything to harm themselves during the schools hours,” said Kasturi Chatterjee, principal of Geetanjali Devashray.
Several international schools which have digitized classrooms and where students use laptops, pre-empt any illegal activity through IT-enabled devices. A teacher at a prominent international school in Bachupally said that school’s IT system has firewalls that allow access to only limited websites to ensure that students focus on studies and not get distracted. “We put a lot of emphasis on digital learning but do not encourage students to bring fancy gadgets like tablets, smartphones or even smart watches.”
The circular states “..if children use the internet without safety awareness, they may fall prey to illegal activity or abuse such as cyber bullying, fraud or something even more serious. Hence, awareness of internet safety norms is absolutely indispensable to make children free to explore knowledge without feeling intimidated.”
Experts, however, feel that potential of technology to harm students is limited to international schools and big private schools where children from elite families study. “In government schools, that have computers there is no internet so there is limited scope for them to fall prey to illegal activities online including Blue Whale Challenge. In fact, teachers are also discouraged from getting their smartphones to schools,” said Chava Ravi member of Telangana Teachers Federation.