Page last updated at 15:56 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 16:56 UK

Mobile ban in Sri Lanka schools

Mobile telephone advert in Sri Lanka
Parents have been blamed for providing mobiles to their children

Sri Lanka has banned students from using mobile phones at school following the suicide of a teenager disciplined for using her device, officials say.

An education ministry spokesman said the ban would apply in public and private schools.

Students say high-tech mobile phones offer them opportunities to text messages, pictures and surf the net.

But teachers and education officials are now opposing the idea of mobile phones in classrooms.

A 14-year-old girl hanged herself last week after being disciplined for having a phone inside school premises.

Another student from the same school in the capital Colombo attempted suicide after receiving a similar reprimand.

Both students were reportedly afraid that they would receive a severe punishment and be reported to their parents.

Now the government says it has imposed a total ban on mobile phones in all schools.

"The ban on mobile phone comes into effect immediately. We have received many complaints from parents, principals and the public (about mobile phones)," Susil Premajayantha, Sri Lankan Minister of Education told the BBC Sinhala service.

The government has also advised teachers to restrict the use of their mobile phones inside school premises.

Some blame the parents for providing phones to their children as students below the age of 18 are not eligible to get mobile phone contracts on their own.

More than half the Sri Lankan population of about 20 million people use mobile phones and their reach is spreading further because of falling line rentals and intense business competition.

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