A heavy step forward

Cumbersome task

A heavy step forward

The sight of school children almost keeling over thanks to the heavy school bags they carry, every morning, is saddening. The struggle to inch their way forward under the weight of these bags continues even as debates on the issue have become the order of the day. The most recent move to ensure that the weight of the school bag remains well within a child's ability to withstand it was laid out in the guidelines enunciated in the Central Advisory Board of Education.

One of the key points of the guidelines is that school managements must frame a well-designed timetable for each section of the class so that children do not have to carry too many books or notebooks to the school every day. Parents and educationists couldn’t agree more. Ideally, most of the work should be done in school and children must carry minimum work home, observe parents. Nakul Shenoy, a professional and father of three children, points out that his children carry school bags that weigh anything between 3.5 to 4.2 kg everyday.

“Yes! I actually weigh the bags and keep a track.  I raised my concerns to the teacher on a couple of occasions and I was told that they are trying to reduce the weight of the bags, but are forced to send the books home because the kids would want to revise. But my child is only in class one and I don’t see why they have to do so much revision,” wonders Nakul.

    He suggests that either the books be kept in school or there should be two sets of books (one at school and the other at home). Nakul says that if the Maharashtra government can bring in a rule saying that the school bags should not be more than 10 per cent of a child's weight, he wonders why the same can’t be implemented in Karnataka.

   Most parents observe that their children have begun to develop aches and pains at a young age. Radhika Shankar, a housewife and a mother of two children, says, “I have twins who study in class five and their school bags are so heavy that they are tired even
before they reach school every morning. My sons complain of constant shoulder ache and their shoulders have also begun to droop,” she states.

She also says that heavy school bags has affected their posture. The impact of heavy bags on children's spines is a matter of concern, say doctors.

     Dr Pradeep Kocheeppan, shoulder surgeon and sports medicine specialist, Apollo Hospitals, states that he has a lot of patients, including children, with severe shoulder and neck pain. He points out that a child’s shoulder blade is not conditioned to carry such heavy weight. “Heavy bags certainly affect the posture of a child and they begin to
appear bent under the weight. Schools must introduce head and shoulder exercises at
regular intervals to prevent pain,” he states. He also observes that the curriculum in most schools is heavy and elaborate. “With increased competition, children have been burdened with additional coaching classes which also contributes to the increase in weight of school bags,” he adds. 

     A few schools in the City have designed their timetable in such a way that children bring minimum books to school. Ekya School has literally done away with notebooks and brought in the concept of files.

   Praveena, a Hindi teacher, with the school, says, “We have a file system where children file whatever notes they write. They carry these files to school instead of notebooks.  We also have a system where we concentrate on only one subject in a day. This further
reduces the burden of having to carry so many books,” she states.

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