The Star Malaysia
Weighty load for schoolchildren
PRIMARY schoolchildren lugging heavy school bags has been an issue for years, but little has been done to solve the problem.
Do parents and teachers ever look at the size and weight of bags that primary schoolchildren carry to schools these days?
The school bags are unbelievably heavy and how these children are lugging them to school, is a wonder.
Some school bags weigh a few kilos and would not even be allowed in as hand luggageby some airlines.
What’s even more surprising is that the weight of the bag can sometimes be almost as heavy as the child who is carrying it.
Lugging themto and from school can have a detrimental effect, especially on primary schoolchildren.
A study done a few years ago found that schoolchildren carrying heavy school bags were susceptible to scoliosis – a medical condition of abnormal hardening of body tissue resulting in damage to the spinal cord.
The backbone can be deformed due to constant pressure on the back and in latter years, the child may become a hunchback or have irreversible back ache.
These are young children between seven and 12 years who are still growing and developing physically.
The Education Ministry has directed primary schools to have a few subjects daily on the timetable so as not to burden the children to carry the textbooks.
More importantly, schools must restructure timetables on dedicated subject days.
Doing so, will take a great load off the pupils.
There are about 10 school subjects in the primary school curriculum.
Each subject comes with a textbook, a few workbooks and exercise books.
The textbooks can sometimes be thick and heavy.
Apart from the school stationery, the child also carries a water bottle, packed food and extra clothes in the school bag.
Parents should help their children especially those in the early primary school classes, to pack their school bags based on the timetable.
The school should not have more than three to four subjects daily.
And schools should follow the timetable strictly.
The other alternative would be for the schools to provide lockers or cupboards in the classroom where the children can store or keep the books in school.
The only drawback to this option is that children would not be able to revise or do their homework if they leave the textbooks in school.
As we are move into the 21st century learning, the digitalisation of school text books is inevitable, and implemented in stages.
More children will have access to digital textbooks and that will hopefully take a load off their backs.