Silent Types: Although most Bangkok schools have banned student cell phones to curb cheating, teens attending the Sethsathien School are encouraged to bring them. About 80 percent of 15- to 18-year-olds at the city’s first school for the deaf use the devices to send text messages to friends, teachers, and family members. “Without mobile phones, we could not communicate unless we were standing right in front of each other,” art teacher Rungravee Ditchareon told the Agence France-Presse. “In the past, if I wanted to contact a student, I would have to walk through the entire school to find him, but now I can just send an SMS.” Students use the so-called short message service to ask teachers about homework or school activities, but passing notes in class—whether in print or onscreen—is still a no-no.
Up in Smoke: It’s illegal for Czech teens to smoke at school, but some administrators still want them to do so more comfortably. Claiming that supervising students will help control their smoking habits, officials at several high schools have opened smoking rooms, which aren’t outlawed. Without such areas, they say, students would smoke outside or in restrooms. One planned room in south Bohemia, the Czech News Agency reports, will cost about $1,200 and will include ashtrays, chairs, and tables. The Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports has criticized the practice despite the school director’s insistence that students will continue to receive lectures on smoking prevention.
Class Act: To hear education ministry employees in Alexandria tell it, first ladyLaura Bush didn’t get the real deal when she visited the U.S.-funded girls’ school Um al-Qura. According to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, education department officials ordered teachers, students, and the veiled principal to stay home for the occasion, replacing them with “cleaner, healthier-looking” students and staff. Education undersecretary Kamilia Hegazi flatly denied the accusations, however. “Mrs. Bush was visiting a program funded by the U.S. and not a school,” Hegazi said. “We simply brought in students from different schools benefiting from the program.”
Greater Expectations: Just because aboriginal students in Alberta have been targeted to fill trade jobs and limit labor shortages doesn’t mean the kids will go along quietly. Elementary schools in the province received nearly 148,000 coloring books and 8,000 playing cards, each picturing trade jobs like floor-covering installer, water-well driller, and sheet metal worker, according to the Edmonton Journal. The students had no problem passing the time with the activities, but it didn’t influence their loftier career goals to become doctors, lawyers, or educators. “You have to work with industry, pipes, and electricity. It sounds too hard,” said 10-year-old Destiny Desjarlais as she colored pictures of plumbers and auto mechanics. “I want to be a teacher.”
Vol. 17, Issue 01, Page 17Published in Print: September 1, 2005, as Dispatches