No exceptions would be made on the basis of age or other factors in applying the ban, an official release said.
Minister for School Education Thangam Thennarasu said it had come to the government's notice that some students were not paying proper attention to their education due to the use of cell phones inside the classrooms.
"Students have also been found sending SMSs from classrooms instead of concentrating on their studies. Parents and educationists had requested the ban and the government decided to act upon these suggestions," the release added.
While some parents expressed apprehensions about the measure, school authorities felt the ban was necessary.
S. Sridhar, father of a teenaged girl studying in a higher secondary school, said, "In these times when the security concerns of parents are very high, the cell phone was a handy instrument to allay our fears in times of any emergency. Now that it has been banned, we do not know as to how to contact our children if they are late while coming home for some reason. The facility also helps parents to track their wards. Now it cannot be done."
"The abuse of SMS is common among college students and not those in school. While one has to admit that some schoolchildren do listen to FM radio on their mobiles, a total ban is uncalled for," said Lokeshwari Govindaraj, the widowed parent of a teenaged boy who is in high school.
"My son has to commute nearly two km to and from school. These days all sorts of antisocial elements lurk in the vicinity of educational institutions, it's a situation that scares us," Govindaraj said.
A school principal, who wished to remain unnamed, welcomed the ban.
"This move will force parents to pay more attention towards their children who are being led astray due to the advent of technology. Perhaps, some guardians may be forced to accompany their wards to school and take them back. This will be a safer option," she said.