Shubhangi Nagendra Raajput
What scene pops in your mind when you imagine or see a school bus stop? A mother, or father, or caregiver carrying an overloaded school bag. When the child lifts the bag, he/she droops down by nearly 20 degrees. In most cases, the weight of the bag is nearly one-fourth the weight of the child.
This is a rising concern. Children’s physical health may be harmed from transporting heavy school bags, which can result in discomfort, agony, and potential long-term problems. This article is an effort to explore the causes and possible remedies for the same.
What makes school bags a heavy weight lifting tool?
1. The school’s irrational selection of textbooks and unclear instructions about notebooks
Different education boards prescribe certain textbooks, but schools compel parents to buy not just the prescribed books, but additional reference books and material from private publishers. The explanation given is that these additional books will aid the student and help them score better in the exams. This explanation is enough to shut the parent body up, which is otherwise ever ready to take on the school management. There are no clear instructions about the number of notebooks per subject that the child has to carry to school either.
2. No policy for storage of textbooks and notebooks
Most schools do not care to think and invest in student lockers. This leaves the students with the only option of carrying their heavy bags back and forth. Even in schools where lockers are available, the lack of proper communication between teachers and parents results in students carrying their bags every day.
3. Oversized backpacks
Students frequently carry more than is needed. They tend to carry unwanted stationary and other resource books due to space availability.
4. Unawareness and apathy
Many parents and students are not aware of the possible dangers linked to heavy school bags. When it comes to older students, the concern is almost absent.
Physical health effects
Carrying or lifting heavy weights results in growing back pain, poor posture, and some serious issues of the spine to name a few. Many children complain about pain in the arms and neck as well. Prolonged exposure to heavy loads can affect a child’s capacity to grow and develop normally.
Carrying a heavy bag can lower student energy. They may develop a reluctance to go to school. Some students also use this as a reason to escape timely submissions and reporting. This not only creates a friction between the teachers and students but also puts their grading at stake.
Measures to curb this problem
Aerial review of the curriculum: Schools and educationists should analyze the core areas of learning outcomes expected at each age. As per this, the choice of appropriate textbooks should be done, minimizing emphasis on bigger or heavy notebooks and textbooks.
Use digital learning resources: The pandemic introduced us to the digital world of education. The amount of good and engaging material that is available for free online is mind boggling. Let us continue dipping into the digital world for learning material thus reducing our reliance on physical books.
Locker availability: Schools should provide locker facilities where students can keep their books and other stationary safely. The locker policy can be drafted by mutual collaboration between parents, teachers, and students.
Bag audits: Each school can take up periodic audits to check the weight of the bags. The student council along with responsible teachers can plan these audits and share their findings. Corrective and preventive actions can then be drafted and shared with the stakeholders.
School bags replacement with backpacks: Parents should encourage children to use backpacks instead of fancy school bags. Backpacks are similar to rucksacks, only that the latter has more compartments and pockets. Backpacks have wide straps and they are worn on the back. They have pockets and compartments for organization and storing many items.
Rigorous planning and implementation of “NO BAG SCHOOL DAYS”: As per the circular introduced by CBSE in December 2021, no bag days have to be introduced in schools. Some schools actively crafted and began to implement it, but not all.
Awareness creation and effective execution: Schools and educational institutions should hold awareness campaigns to educate parents, students, and instructors.
In the end, addressing the issue of heavy school bags invites the triangular collaboration on the part of schools, parents, and students. Ultimately the lives and childhood are precious. Let’s innovate and think laterally to unburden childhood.
The author is a teacher by choice. She is a chemistry postgraduate who loves to co relate theoretical learning with practical learning. Shubhangi Nagendra Raajput is passionate about children and their welfare. She is also the AIEF Global Resource Person who loves to interact with the teacher community. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org