An amateur video showing a man using a hammer to smash dozens of mobile phones has caused quite a stir in Gabon. And for good reason: the phones belong to the students of the high school in Port-Gentil – many of whom watched, dumbstruck, as their phones were destroyed.
The video was filmed on October 24 in the courtyard of the Lycée Joseph Ambourouet Avaro in Port-Gentil. A man, later identified as the security guard for the school, is using a hammer to demolish a pile of mobile phones on the ground.
The video, seen more than 20,000 times across different publications, drew a lot of comments from Facebook users. Some said that it was unacceptable to destroy such expensive items; others said that the students needed the phones in order to be able to call their parents at the end of the school day or if there was a problem.
FRANCE 24 spoke to two students who confirmed that mobiles being confiscated is fairly normal at this high school, but that it had started to happen even more after a new headmaster was appointed in April 2017. However, this was the first time that phones had actually been deliberately broken.
"We wanted to send a message to students that the rules would be applied"
The FRANCE 24 Observers team contacted Daniel Esseng, the deputy head teacher at the Lycée Joseph Ambourouet Avaro, who forwarded the school’s list of rules to us. In the handbook, there is a rule dated June 21, 2017, which clearly stipulates that all electronic devices, like mobile phones, “confiscated within the high school’s grounds will be immediately destroyed”, apart from special cases, like if the student has health problems, for example.
A letter outlining the no-mobile rule, sent to the FRANCE 24 Observers by a staff member at the school, and signed by the head teacher. The same rule can also be found in the parent-teacher contact book given to each student.
Daniel Esseng explained:
The majority of telephones that we can see in the video are stocks of old telephones that were confiscated in previous years, and which have been sitting in the admin office for sometimes as long as two years. Only a few that had been recently confiscated were in this pile.We wanted to show the students that from now on, the rules would be followed to the letter. I do hope that this kind of thing won’t have to happen again because the students will have understood the message.”
Esseng said that staff members of the high school had not received any complaints from parents as far as he was aware. As for the students, some of whom we spoke to said that they were upset that they had not been verbally informed about this change in the school rules.
Article written by Alexandre Capron (@alexcapron).