The education ministry is working on a bill that will introduce the same penalties for secondary school students using mobile phones in class as those currently enforced in primary schools across Cyprus.

A spokesperson for the ministry told the Cyprus Mail that the bill will be tabled in the upcoming days and will be discussed for approval in parliament after the June 9 elections.

If approved, the ban on mobile phones in secondary schools will be reinforced from the next school year.

“The education ministry has met representatives of secondary school parents and of secondary teachers’ union Oelmek in the past month and they are still ironing out a few details,” the spokesperson said.

“We don’t yet know when the bill is supposed to be discussed in parliament, but it will surely happen after the elections.”

The spokesperson said, however, that the education ministry is still open to discussing the details of the ban, as questions remain about the feasibility of implementing it across all school levels.

More specifically, the discussions will need to reflect the bigger impact of mobile phones on the daily lives of secondary school students, especially compared to primary school.

 “Different approaches might be needed for secondary schools, where students are more mature,” Education Minister Athena Michaelidou said last week.

“One possibility is to extend the practice used in technical schools, where students leave their phones in lockers or keep them turned off in their bags before entering classrooms.”

A similar approach, however, will be difficult to implement in most high schools, given the larger number of students compared to those in technical schools.

According to a primary school headmaster in Nicosia, current regulations prohibit the presence of mobile phones in classrooms or gatherings, with students facing various penalties for violations.

“These range from warnings to suspension, with potential punishments for mobile phone use including suspension of up to three days,” the headmaster told the Cyprus Mail.

“At the moment, the regulations in secondary schools are somewhat confusing, with some schools enforcing bans very strictly and other appearing more lenient. Perhaps that is why the ministry is trying to lay them out in parliament with a bill.”

Last week, representatives of Oelmek raised the issue of mobile phones in secondary schools during a meeting with President Nikos Christodoulides, during which they highlighted several issues regarding bans and the lack of consistency to enforcing them all over the island.

Oelmek told the president during the meeting that the lack of enforcement has led to increased incidents of violence and misconduct in secondary schools, with students often communicating with each other through their mobile phones in class and participating in internet challenges that result in serious incidents of bullying, physical altercations and even sexual harassment and abuse.