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Staying in touch

People in the West Bank have become dependent on mobile phone technology.

Many teachers, and some school students live in villages and must travel to get to their schools in neighbouring villages or towns. Travelling in the West Bank may mean crossing checkpoints or using a gate in the wall. There are sometimes delays at checkpoints, gates in the wall not opened on time, road blocks and curfews.

Teachers and students can be late getting to school or getting home.

Obviously delays cause worry for schools and for parents, so mobile phones, when they can be afforded, have become essential in alleviating some of the anxiety. But mobile phones in the hands of students can cause problems with discipline in the classroom, and every school has a policy on mobile phones in school. These policies are different depending on their particular situation:

* Students MUST NOT bring mobiles into class because they text each other, cause a nuisance in class and can cheat in exams (UNRWA Girls School, Ramallah town).

* Students MAY bring mobiles to school because some students come in from villages and have to pass checkpoints. They need them to alleviate panic by informing school and parents if there are curfews or closures. But all students MUST have them switched off in class (village school, Ramallah area).

* Students who bring mobiles in to school will have them confiscated, their parents called in and the phone will be given to their families. If bought second-hand they are a security risk, are unreliable, could explode and could be used unethically (UNRWA Boys School, Camp beside Ramallah).

* Students MUST NOT bring mobiles into schools unless they are from villages. If they are from villages, students who have mobiles MUST bring their mobiles into school and give the school their mobile number but they must leave them in the office each morning. (village school, Qalqilya area)

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