Having been a longstanding member of Ashcroft’s school board for 17 years, as well as a mother and a grandmother, the return to school has always been an exciting time. I know that educators and parents are driven by our commitment to providing our youth with high-quality education that will support them through their developing years and put them on a path for future success.

Unfortunately, British Columbia is witnessing a troubling trend, marked by declining literacy rates and declining performance in math and science. My conversations with parents and teachers consistently highlight the pervasive impact of increased smartphone use among students. A recent report from the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization found that excessive mobile phone use is linked to reduced educational performance, and high levels of screen time is negatively impacting children’s emotional stability.

Through all my years on the school board, I never saw such a quick decline in the educational performance of our students. Action from government is long overdue.

Several jurisdictions worldwide, including within Canada, have taken proactive measures by banning cellphone use in schools, especially during instructional hours. Under a Kevin Falcon-led BC United government, we will ban non-instructional cellphone use in K-12 classrooms to ensure that students remain fully engaged in their learning without distractions from their devices.

To support teachers and ensure effective enforcement of this ban, we are committed to funding storage lockers in all B.C. schools that currently do not have them. We will make it our priority to enhance student engagement, restore transparency in grading by bringing back letter grades, and address the pressing need for more schools in our province.

Our kids are the cornerstone of our future, and it’s imperative to equip them with the proper tools and learning environment for success. Taking decisive action to rekindle student engagement and shift the focus back to studies rather than screens is long overdue and a BC United-led government plans to do just that.

 

Jackie Tegart is the MLA for Fraser-Nicola.