Kids buckle under heavy school bags

 28 Sep 2016 - 1:40

Kids buckle under heavy school bags
Young children with their heavy school bags in a private school. Pic: Abdul Basit / The Peninsula

By Irfan Bukhari / The Peninsula

DOHA: Despite a consensus among parents, teachers and doctors over the gravity of the heavy school bags issue, the problem exists, causing harmful effects on children’s health. 
“It is back-to-school time and as usual I am pained to see my kids carrying these heavy, huge school bags. It is, though, astonishing to find how these children manage to carry such heavy bags. 
“But what is more antagonising is why have parents become mute spectators to this inhuman apathy towards their little children?” questioned Ahmed Khan, an expat from India.
Passing the buck to parents, teachers complain, saying the parents do not fix up their children’s school bags on a daily basis by removing the books/notebooks for the classes which are not scheduled. 
Talking to The Peninsula, A K Srivastava, Principal, Birla Public School, said his school is guiding the children and parents to fix up school bags on a daily basis to remove extra load. “We do send emails to parents to remind the same. Now, whenever any teacher observes any student carrying a heavy bag, he checks it for extra load,” he said.
Khan particularly mentioned the Indian schools with regard to heavy bags and said: “The timetables, the school lockers are all namesakes and children are forced to carry the heavy burden day in and day out of school. 
“The onus is on schools to save children from this menace by arranging convenient and spacious locker facilities for each student within the school premises, and on the teachers who can guide the students how to manage their book loads,” he said.
Khan urged the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to look into the matter possibly by conducting surprise inspections and visits and penalising the erring schools.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) India has recently asked all affiliated schools through a circular to not assign any homework to students of class I and II and these classes should be asked to not bring school bags to schools. 
“Young children whose spine is at a crucial stage of growth are the most susceptible to hazards such as back pain, muscle pain, shoulder pain, fatigue and in extreme cases the distortion of spinal cord or shoulders that may most plausibly be attributed to heavy school bags,” the CBSE circular said.
Srivastava said they are implementing the directives issued by CBSE. “We are implementing them. There are lockers for students from class 4 onward while up to class 3, the students are provided with pigeon holes,” he added.
The situation in Pakistani community schools is no different. 
Asked for comment, Nargis Raza Otho, Principal, Pakistan Education Centre, pleaded her school’s case in these words: “Children like bringing all books irrespective of time table and classes schedule. We are guiding parents to tackle the trend by removing those books from bags whose classes are not scheduled for that particular day. 
“The second factor behind heavy bags is fancy bags themselves. And, if we do not assign homework to children then parents object and ask why we are not giving homework. In our school, we ask children and parents to use thin notebooks instead of thicker ones.”
International schools and some Indian schools have adopted new educational methodology under which students don’t need to carry the burden of heavy school bags. 
The students usually keep their syllabus in their lockers in the school and take only work-sheets home.
Dr. Farooq Anwar, a Doha-based family physician, said injurious effects of heavy school bags appear more on children aged 2-11 years as it is a rapid growth time. “The load casts ill effects on bones, spine, muscles and joints,” he added.