The ban on use of mobile phones by pupils at the State School Festival points to utter failure of the education system in the State to teach good conduct and manners. It shows that though the festival is highly supervised by teachers, they fail to guide them in proper use of the mobile phones. Instead, they have chosen to seek the easy way out by banishing mobile phones from the venues.
The festival is once in a lifetime experience for many pupils. Many would like to preserve memories in the form of photos. They may very well be the entry point for some students in to photography as a hobby or profession. The phone can very well be a tool for creativity if the teachers directed the students properly.
A few aberrations here or there is not a good reason to shut out a useful technology. In fact, one can often see that the real reason for incidents like suicide is just not the phone. The incidents point to serious problems in the upbringing of both the accused and the victims. In fact, suicide rate among students are increasing and the reasons are varied. But most have reasons rooted in the failure of the family and educational institutions to bring up students to face the challenges of the information age.
There is little doubt the guidance for living in the information age should start at the schools. It is at the schools and school festivals that pupils could be imbibed with values and behavioural norms that they would tend to follow in later years. If prohibition is used for behavioural control, that may not always yield results. The pupils, who could be stopped from using mobile phones at the school festivals, cannot be stopped from using it during their college days. And in this age, it is not difficult to get a photograph of anyone, and prohibition will do only more harm than good.
So, the authorities should take the school festival as an opportunity to train pupils in the good use of mobile phones and against abuse. Taking of pictures need be discouraged only in the green rooms and hostels. At the same time, parents could restrict unnecessary access to mobile phones to prevent abuse and any ill-effects on health.