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Govt’s criminal silence over heavy schoolbags!

Abdullah Qureshi

SCHOOL CHILDREN are left with no option but to carry heavy bags in disproportion to their body weight causing serious health hazards. Why the government, parents and schools are unmoved so far. It is not any more uncommon to find students especially in middle schools carrying heavy bags weighing up to 30 pounds or even more on their backs on a regular basis!

Is it necessary to carry all books.If your child’s shoulder is rounded while carrying the bag, it means either the bag is too heavy or it has been packed incorrectly.

Students carry heavy bags at their shoulders drawn down with the weight. Children, who make their way to school on foot, even suffer badly. This has become a pressing issue as most of the children find it difficult to carry such heavy bags even they are not strong enough. Another question arises that is it necessary to carry all books even they aren’t read? SERIOUS THREAT TO YOUR CHILD’S HEALTH Sometimes it’s difficult for parents to understand why children are complaining about their health, especially because they are at a growing phase.

Health experts says children are at long-term risk and ultimately permanent damage if they regularly carry more than 15 percent of their body weight over their shoulders. Children’s skeletons are still growing so carrying heavy bags can cause lasting damage. If your child’s shoulder is rounded while carrying the bag, it means either the bag is too heavy or it has been packed incorrectly. Ensure you avoid such practice and encourage your little one to keep the spine straight and shoulders squared, while carrying the schoolbag.

But it’s not just that their bags are heavy, it’s that their physical frame isn’t developed enough or large enough to carry around bags that are so heavy. This is particularly prominent in spine development in children who are no longer in primary school but are physically too small to carry large bags.Parents are being urged to keep an eye on children’s backpacks so that they do not indulge in health problems when they are older.

Courtesy Syed Rizwan Geelani

STEPS TO UNBURDEN YOUR CHILD FROM A HEAVY SCHOOLBAG :

1. Carry  what you need: Always carry those things which you need the most. Teach your children to follow the timetable and carry only those books which are required for the particular day as per the class schedule. Backpacks should be ideally not heavier than 10% of body weight.

2. Check your bag every day: Clear the bag every alternate day to remove any excess worksheets, notes, stationery or other miscellaneous items that are not required.

3. Leave some books at School: If your school is equipped with lockers with storage facilities for students to keepbooks and accessories then leave some books or copies there. Don’t overload the backpack, use school lockers (if available) and plan homework well in advance

4. Always pick light weight accessories: Buy light weight school bags and always make sure you pick up good quality lightweight accessories. Metal compass boxes, for example, are always heavier than their plastic counterparts. Likewise, there are multiple options of light weight lunch boxes in the markets.

5. Prefer Ergonomic Bag:  While buying a schoolbag for your child, prioritize ergonomic bags. A bag with a broad, firm base, which narrows as it goes upwards and has broad, padded shoulder straps evenly distributes weight on the shoulders and back while carrying. Also, it is good for a bag to have compartments, but too many pockets can make the bag too bulky and cumbersome to carry. Make sure the backpack is sturdy and appropriately sized – not wider than the student’s chest. Choose a backpack with broad, padded shoulder straps.

6. Put the bag down: Teach your kids to put the bag down whenever they can, like while waiting at the bus stop and walking towards school etc.

7. Pack smartly: Train your kids to pack their bag wisely, with heavier books at the bottom and lighter books and accessories on top. Use zip pouches instead of heavy bulky lunch box to carry dry snacks, and always clear clutter. Place all heavy items at the base of the pack, close to the spine, for a better distribution of the weight.

 

 VIEWPOINTS OF EDUCATIONISTS ABOUT HEAVY BAGS

 

Director General LESCO School Mr. Tariq Wahid Khan:
WE all are responsible for this. I remember when I was in convent school Muree, I used to place my books and copies in a locker at school and I only carry those note books in which I have to do my homework. Unfortunately, now the whole scenario is changed as students have to carry all the books/copies while going back to home because no lockers are available for students in schools. We are trying our level best to bring furniture equipped with lockers for the students at LESCO schools. We must review our educational system. We have to
update our policies for education according to the modern world.

 

Punjab University College of Information Techonology Principle Syed Mansoor Sarwar:
WE must install lockers at schools. Firstly, we have to differentiate between pre, primary and day-care centers. Secondly homework should not be given by the schools. In Finland, there is no examination system in schools in first six years and it is on the top of the list in the education sector. It is not necessary to read all the books every day.

 

 

Registrar Punjab University Dr. Khalid Khan:
I think we have to half the burden of our students by taking the responsibility as teachers and parents. We have to engage students in studies at schools only. Unfortunately, at school, teachers give a lot of homework which is the major cause of burden. So the culture of heavy bags should be stopped now. The school administration need to make proper timetable so that students bring only few books, instead of bringing every book or notebook every day.

 

 

 

PU DG Gujranwala Campus Dr. Sayyid Salman Rizavi:

IN France the schools are equipped with lockers and students do not bring books to home. No homework is given to them and in homes students participate in different physical activities. In Pakistan unluckily parents don’t allow their kids to go outside and involve in physical activities that’s why students feel the burden of homework.

 

 

Columnist Orya Maqbool Jan,
IN the developed world where good educational policies are implemented and the educational policies which are developed by our ancestors have no system of home work and schoolbags always remain at schools. Students go to schools with no bags and after school they used to participate in sports and other recreational activities. But in Pakistan when students want to play their parents restrict them to do homework and not to play. Heavy bags build pressure on students. Even India has taken some initiatives to ban schoolbags. The problem is that some external books are also part of the curriculum which are not included in syllabus that’s why bags become even heavier. If we want to take any stance against heavy schoolbags, we first have to modify our educational system.

What About Lockers?

The installation of lockers at schools is often raised as a solution of the problem. One limitation is that lockers will not eliminate the carrying of books to and from school if required for homework or study. The installation of lockers is a school based decision dependent on funds, space, supervision, security and maintenance. This can be raised with school principal or through the school’s parents and citizens’ association.

WHILE TALKING TO PARENTS

Syed Waseem Ali

My son is in prep class and his weight is approximately 15 kg while his bag weighs around 4 to 5 kg. According to physiologists, a schoolbag should not weigh more than 10% of the student’s body weight. I appeal to the government to take serious action on this issue. I suggest to install lockers at schools. The lack of lockers at schools leads to students carrying whole day text books to classrooms.

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About Abdullah Qureshi

The writer is journalist by profession. He has a keen interest in reading, storytelling, writing. He is also a brilliant photographer and a speaker. He also work for PU News letter and Tahqeeq Pakistan. He tweets at @AbdullahAQ10

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