LETTER: School administrators are creating a public health crisis

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Dear Sir/Madam

Please allow me some space in your newspaper to complain about something that is disturbing, and many are not educated on the seriousness of the problem.

Here is the problem: some schools are mandating that all their students possess laptops or tablets, and that these devices be used in classes on a daily basis.

A local optometrist has warned us about the effects of regular screen time on our eyes. Regular screen time increases the risk of nearsightedness. In addition to bearing the cost of an electronic device, many parents will soon have to fork out money for glasses and eye doctor visits. This policy of mandatory laptop or tablet ownership will hurt families’ wallets. 

In addition, like our local optometrist has said, nearsightedness does not end with wearing glasses. In fact, nearsightedness increases one’s chances of developing more serious eye diseases that can lead to blindness – like glaucoma, retinal detachment, etc. Prevention is better than cure!

Another major concern, especially with knowledge of how the environment affects us, is e-waste. These devices are deliberately designed to last only a few years. How many people have had to change their devices after less than 5 years – less than the time allocated for secondary school! Of course, this will affect parents’ wallets even further by possibly having to buy more than one device during their children’s secondary school career. Plus, our solid waste sector will be overwhelmed with the extra e-waste being produced; how will it all be disposed of?

We often complain about capitalism. Yet, we aid and abet capitalism. Who will really benefit from mandates that all secondary students must have laptops? The answer is the big businesses of developed countries. We make unethical rules that make ourselves poorer and the big tech companies richer.

I hope officials from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health read this and ban school administrators from mandating laptop/tablet ownership by all students. Many of us went to school when these devices were rare or even unheard of, and we learnt just fine.

A concerned citizen.

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