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Tokyo allows students to bring smartphones to high schools

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. (Mainichi/Masaaki Shimano)

TOKYO -- The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education on June 20 decided to allow metropolitan high school students to bring smartphones to school.

The authority will also lift the ban on using the phones in high schools for studying and other reasons as necessary. In the case of municipal elementary and junior high schools, it will leave the decision up to each local board of education.

The trend to ease regulations related to smartphones in public schools is spreading in Japan as municipal elementary and junior high school students in Osaka Prefecture and Hiroshima prefectural high school students, both in western Japan, have been permitted to bring the devices to school.

According to a survey by the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education in the 2018 school year, about 97% of metropolitan high school students use smartphones. Some people requested the education board lift the ban on bringing the phones to school so students could use them as communication tools in emergencies. Some high schools have even introduced classes using the high-tech devices on a trial basis.

The education board consequently judged that it was necessary to reform the rules in a bid to adapt to changing social needs. After the reforms are carried out, high school principals will be able to decide whether to allow their students to bring the phones to school and use them at school.

The education ministry in January 2009 notified school operators that elementary and junior high school students were banned in principle from bringing smartphones to school and their use should be restricted in high schools. Meanwhile, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education had imposed stricter rules on allowing students to bring the devices to school.

(Japanese original by Akira Okubo, City News Department)

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