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Teachers can’t take cellphones from students, says Costa Rican Education Ministry

August 17, 2015

Ah, the good old days, when teachers could flip out over flip phones in the classroom.

Alas, no more. Costa Rica’s daily La Nación reported Friday that public school teachers cannot take away cellphones from students in the classroom, according to a new Education Ministry policy.

Students aren’t actually permitted to use cellphones and smartphones in the classroom, except for educational purposes, but teachers don’t seem to have much recourse to stop a texting student under the new rules.

“The teacher cannot take away the phone because it is a private good. It’s against the law. Its use is permitted inside the classroom only for educational use, supervised by the teacher,” Kerly León, head of students rights at the Education Ministry, told La Nación.

The interview did not mention how to incorporate SnapChat or Candy Crush into the curriculum.

While some holdouts aren’t happy about smartphone use in school, the U.S. National Education Association has noted a growing trend in favor of loosening restrictions on them. In 2014, for example, Mayor Bill de Blasio reversed a 2006 ban on their use in New York City public schools — the largest school district in the United States.

If a student in a Costa Rican school continues to use his or her phone during class time, teachers are asked to tattle on them to their parents.

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