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October 21, 2019

Children stagger under schoolbag burden

Islamabad

October 21, 2019

Student of every class who walks up to school lifts schoolbag full of so many textbooks, classwork/rough work notebooks, pencil box, art material, sports equipment, water bottle and lunch box. The schoolbag looks like an unnecessary load on his/her back.

“Schoolchildren between 7 to 13 years carry more than 45 percent of their body weight on their backs, while the ideal weight of a school bag should be 10 percent of the child’s weight,” says Nasir Hussain, a medical expert.

Adeel Haider, an MBBS doctor, says: “Heavy bags damage muscles and nervous system. Schoolchildren under 13 years face the risk of spinal damage and irreversible back problems due to the burden. Some may suffer from early slipped disc, spondylitis, spondylolisthesis, persistent back aches, early degeneration of spine and postural scoliosis i.e. abnormal spine curvature.”

“School children are not weightlifters. Less homework would help, which indirectly translates to lighter school bags. Schools should stick to a stringent weekly timetable, so that a minimum number of texts and workbooks have to be carried,” says Zulfiqar Ali, an educationist.

Anwer Ali, a medical consultant, says: Heavier school bags affect students’ nervous system, and overstress their muscles and ligaments. Some children tend to develop a forward head posture, which makes them swing at the hip, so as to make up for the heavy weight of bags. In the long term, they develop imbalances.”

“Children’s weighty problems seem to be heavier in private schools. Female children suffer more dorsal and lower back ache from bags. It also indicates that shorter children are more prone to it than their taller peers. Heavy school bags cause serious threats to the vertebral column and knees in growing children,” says Shazia Hussain, a private hospital doctor.

Ghulm Ali, a school principal, says: “A school bag shouldn’t weigh more than 10 percent of a student’s weight. Schools must ensure that students carry appropriate bags, and use double straps to carry them. Teachers must inform students in advance of the weight they should carry, teach them to pack their bags, and to keep them close to their bodies to distribute the weight.”

“School bags should have a balance of academic subjects and co-curricular activities, so that children wouldn’t have to carry too many books on the same day. Carrying bags weighing between 5 and 7 kgs is really exhausting, especially for the students whose school is located at quite a distance,” says Junaid Abbas, father of Class-V student.

“Steps must be taken to lighten schoolbags. Students should not be allowed to stagger under the burden. They should not carry unnecessary articles, textbooks or workbooks. Alternative methods of teaching based on computer technology be used to reduce textbooks weight,” says Seerat Abbas.

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