Teachers vs. cell phone mast

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When Eldorado Park Senior Secondary School, which is located in Johannesburg in South Africa, announced plans to have a cell phone mast on campus, school governing body chairman Lionel Billings found himself faced with an ultimatum from teachers: either the mast went, or they all did.  “I thought I could rather lose the mast but not the teachers,” Billings, who agreed to scrap the plan, admits.  “My kids also attend the same school.”

It was more than two years ago that the school entered into a contract with Cell C, believing it would provide them with a guaranteed income.  Billings acknowledges that the idea of radiation had crossed his mind, but that other schools had the same plan and so he did not give it too much thought.  The staff of the school, however, thought quite differently and when construction began toward the end of 2011, Billings found himself given an unequivocal choice.  “The teachers told me if the mast went up, they would leave,” he remembers.  “They had done their research and were concerned about the dangers of cell phones.”

Billings admits that the research seems to be inconclusive, but that every article used the word “radiation”, which was enough for the teachers to give the notion the big thumbs down.  Tracey-Lee Dorny, who is the chair of the South Africa Electromagnetic Radiation Research Foundation, says that Billings did the right thing.  “There are thousands of papers showing possible links to cancer,” she notes.