Hun Sen Tuolsophy Secondary School in Tbong Khmum province has banned students from using mobile phones in class, saying this is detrimental to their study.

The school’s principal, Pov Pinn, said that around 60 per cent of students brought their smartphones to school, and that many of them had been caught playing games instead of studying.

While the ban does not mean that students cannot bring their phones to school, he added, they are not allowed to use any phone applications that are not related to their studies.

The ban went into effect on July 10.

If students are caught playing games, he said, their phones will be confiscated for 90 days, with parents and guardians able to retrieve the devices after this period, but only after signing a contract with the school.

Pinn said the school’s decision to ban smartphone use – which has been supported by parents and guardians – came after repeated warnings to students failed to have any effect.

“The use of mobile phones to play games in class does weakens the students’ results because they do not read their books if they are addicted to these games.

“After implementing the ban, we have seen that many more students are now coming to use the library,” he noted.

Another school, Chea Sim Kampong Thmor High School, in Kampong Thom province, impose a similar ban on July 3.

A school announcement said students could only use their phones with permission from teachers, with devices being confiscated for 90 days should they be found using them without consent.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun criticised the schools’ bans on mobile phone use, calling them “negative, irresponsible and outdated”.

Chanroeun suggested that to help them navigate this new situation, school administrators and teachers should read a book he had complied on ethics for internet users.

He said schools should be focusing on educating students on how to use technology responsibly.

“Teachers should be educating students on understanding how to use smart devices and the internet responsibly and beneficially,” Chanroeun said.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha said the ministry has not banned the use of technology that supports learning and teaching.

However, he said that Article 9 of Prakas No 2786, dated October 22, 2009, states that all students should not do anything that affects the honour and dignity of the institution and the country, including using or playing games on mobile phones while studying.