Schoolbags these days do more harm than good. They carry more books than necessary along with heavy reference books. This affects the child’s posture and physical health in their overall growth. We hear of more youth complaining of backaches these days.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has directed schools to restrict the number of textbooks carried at an attempt to reduce the children’s burden. Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) recommends learning should be focused on knowledge-creation and problem solving that’s interdisciplinary in nature and group work based. This will help reduce burden of heavy schoolbags. They have even included some guidelines for schools to follow:
•Parents and teachers should ensure that students carry books only according to the time-table.
•School heads and teachers should ensure seniors only carry the books required and discourage them from carrying heavy reference books. Instead encourage them to use the library when necessary, as it will also promote a reading habit.
•Co-curricular activities should be conducted every day and scheduled in the time table accordingly to ensure the balance of bag weight throughout the academic
•School heads should counsel parents and teachers about developing issues rising out of children carrying heavy bags to school.
•Restrict the number of textbook to the prescribed norms (NCERT), particularly at the primary and upper primary
•Schools may continue the practice of maintaining books of students up to class 2 in the school itself.
•Schools may provide racks with locks in all classrooms, where reference books, sports equipment etc can be safely stored without needing to be carried to school.
•Students are to be advised as a part of Health Education, to carry well-designed backpacks correctly, to promote good posture.
In regards to the new norms put forth by CBSE DT News asked opinions of a few on what they thought about it and what could be a method to help the children. DT asked a few students, parents and teachers on their thoughts regarding the heavy burden schoolbags have turned out to be.
“In higher classes textbooks are divided into parts that lead to heavy load. It’s especially difficult for children who walk back and forth from home. These days bags are bought for their attractiveness rather than quality. Installing lockers and drawers in schools can help in reducing the number of books carried. Bringing modern day technology like tabs can also help,” Steffi Thomas, Student.
“Children lose interest in coming to school with the burden of heavy school bags. It also decreases their attention span which causes a hindrance in learning. The heavy burden can even stunt their growth as it causes undue stress on the muscles, ligaments or disk thus damaging them.” - Minu, a Teacher.
“Filing papers, going digital, individual locker facility can all help unburden the children.” – Beena, Teacher. (Anonymous)
“The bags the children carry are far heavier than the approved 10% weight. This can lead to many side effects such as back ache, fatigue etc. It even leads to long term illness such as a hunched back, breathing problems and abnormal growth. Schools should see that they don’t concentrate only on academics but extracurricular as well to improve this scenario,” Jacob Mathew, Parent.
“Children these days carry very heavy bags as they don’t have the habit of carrying books according to their timetable. If the teachers specify the books that are needed for the upcoming day the bags need not be so heavy,” Anu, Parent. (Anonymous)
“The textbooks can be split for different terms which make it easier to carry. Providing a basic storage system in schools can be very helpful too. Children should avoid the practice of wearing bags on one shoulder. They should also make sure the bag rests against your back as it will negatively impact on your posture in the future,” Aaron Fernandes, Student.
DT News also asked for some expert medical advice and the doctors have shed some more light on this issue.
“If your child is complaining of any pain or if you notice any posture changes you should consult a doctor. Talk to school management about this so that they can take necessary action,” Dr Janice Backer, BHMS
“Heavy school bags for a long time can cause posture problems and other problems. You can distribute the books for handbag. You can buy two sets of some heavy books for school and another at home,” Dr Ajay Mehta, MBBS
The CBSE board recognizes that, maintaining a healthy body for later life, and promoting a balanced approach to life and learning of the students as their top priority. This burden of learning that is the heavy schoolbag is a much more severe issue than realized. It not only causes problems in present day but have long term effects as well. A child’s entire future can be in a dire state if a proper precaution for this is not considered.