The Distance of I-Cafés from Schools
The distance of i-cafés from schools (distance provision) is an issue that has been bugging the industry since the start. Video arcades which came earlier than the gaming i-cafés were for the right reason not allowed to be established near schools. Distance provision for video arcades as provided for by local ordinances varies from as near as thirty (30) meters up to as far as two hundred (200) meters from gates (sometimes perimeters) of schools.
In an online news entitled Manila bans minors from Internet cafes on weekdays, it was said that the City of Manila in its recently passed Ordinance No. 8168 provided for 25-meter distance between a school gate to the nearest i-café as a means to minimize truancy among students of minor age. This provision is aside from banning elementary and high school students from entering i-café during weekdays which I already discussed in an article here.
The question in this kind of prohibition is its effectiveness in curbing truancy. There were those who says that no matter how far you locate i-cafés from schools, they will still be sought for the game-addicted students. Of course, it’s another story if the authorities will be serious in implementing the no-entry rule. But then again, the question of preventing students from doing their assignments and homework using the i-cafés during weekdays remain.
Given the above premise and my suggestion that students of minor age be allowed to use i-cafés for their studies, what can a local government unit do to make the distance provision work? Will providing for longer distance really curb truancy? How will the distance provision and selective entry of elementary and high school students be implemented?
First, classifying i-cafés into gaming and non-gaming categories must be done. Only two (2) categories, gaming and non-gaming, no in-between. If an i-café has games in its computer units but also offers other services like Internet browsing, encoding, scanning and printing, it must still fall under gaming category.
Next will be making the distance provision longer, say 300 to 500 meters away from schools and impose this rule to gaming i-cafés only. The non-gaming i-cafés can stay near school or even inside them if situation allows. By selective entry of students to i-cafés, we mean those who are on off-class hours must be allowed to use the facilities of a non-gaming i-café whether they are in school uniform or not.
Better still, if the city or town has commercial areas not near schools, gaming i-cafés must be permitted to operate only in such areas. In this way, the authorities can easily check the entry of truant students into such establishments.