Curbs on cellphones at school youth festival

Sangeeth Kurian

DPI to issue guidelines on “do’s and don’ts”

Total ban not practical,

says DPI

Combined youth festival will see 9,000 participants

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI) will issue written guidelines minimising the usage of mobile phones inside accommodation centres that houses the female contestants of the forthcoming Kerala School Youth Festival, which begins here on December 30.

A strict instruction delineating the “do’s and don’ts” will be issued to all schools that double up as accommodation centres during the week-long festival, Mohammed Hanish, director, Public Instruction told The Hindu.

In addition to this, police personnel and volunteers drawn from various residents associations, Parent-Teacher Associations and scouts and guides will also keep a watchful eye on any possible mischief involving camera enabled mobile phones at the 16 festival venues spread across the city.

“We also plan to discuss with the officials of the State police on the security aspect and act according to their suggestions,” said Mr. Hanish

The Directorate has decided to step up its guard against mobile phones in the wake of allegations of misuse involving the gadget, which reportedly led to death of three students in Alappuzha recently. However striking a realistic note, Mr. Hanish said that enforcing a blanket ban on mobile phones during the festival would not be practical.

“It is impossible to frisk all the participants and search their baggage for cell phones. Moreover most of the schools where the participants are put up do not have a public telephone booth nearby, making a ban virtually impossible,” he said.

The combined youth festival, organised jointly by the DPI, Higher Secondary Education and Vocational Higher Secondary Education, is expected to attract 9,000 contestants, including 4,000 girls from class VIII to XII across the State.

The event is being introduced as a substitute for the existing school youth festivals that are hosted by the directorates of various educational streams.

Lodging in 17 schools

The participants will be lodged across 17 city schools, of which seven schools are meant for girls. Each school is expected to accommodate 500 to 1,000 participants. “The accommodation centres will be out of bounds for individuals who are not connected with the event,” Mr. Hanish said.

Though the DPI director admits that the logistical challenge involved in organising such a major cultural extravaganza is “a bit mind-boggling,” he hastens to add that the festival will be a new experience for all.

“The event will see the flowering of some of the best creative minds among children. It will also witness the fruition of unified school education practices,” Mr. Hanish said.

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