While we can all express that we have had fond memories of growing up in local schools across the country, one of the least enjoyable aspects of being a young student is arguably having to carry exceedingly heavy school bags to class. And while we may not think much of it now, the practice of cramming multiple thick textbooks into schoolbags for young children to carry may in fact be detrimental to their health and development.
Primary school students now carrying schoolbags as heavy as 8 kilos
The issue was recently brought to light within local online communities again after Mr Mohd Fadli Salleh, a schoolteacher with Sekolah Kebangsaan Gombak 1, wrote a Facebook post about it that was widely shared by concerned parents. In his post, Mr Mohd Fadli goes on to explain how a local Mathematics teacher came to be shocked by the literal burden that young primary school students have to carry on their backs every day to class.
“This is the schoolbag of a Primary 2 student.”
Told to bring weighing scales as part of an educational activity to learn about the concept of mass, the school teacher proceeded to weigh the bags of the students in her class and found that on average, her Primary Two students that are only 8-years-old, were carrying over 5 kilos of school materials in their bags. The heaviest was measured at startling 8.3 kilos.
Parents share similar concerns
He also shares similar experiences that other parents have similarly faced with the weight of their own children’s schoolbags.
“My children, Primary 1, girl weighing 17 kilos and Primary 5, boy weighing 24 kilos, have to bend their backs to carry the weight of their schoolbags. Their classrooms are on second and third floors. And we as parents can’t even help bring their bags up all the way to their classrooms.”
“My child is 8 years old, his bag weighs 8.3 kilos (I weighed it myself). He tells me every day that his bag is too heavy.”
“It is [heavy schoolbags] not ergonomic at all! Heavy schoolbags can pose as a danger to the posture of young children. It is seriously such a shame! The Ministry of Education should conduct research and revise the schedule of school students, or prepare lockers for them to keep their books in school and only bring books home when needed.”
According to Dr. Bradley Weinberger, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, children who have to carry excessively heavy backpacks over a prolonged period of time can find themselves at an increased risk of developing back and neck pain due to changes in posture as well as movement patterns. And these ailments, if not addressed, can carry well into a child’s development towards adulthood.
However, Mr Mohd Fadli points out that cynics continue to deflect the concerns over heavy backpacks and claim that children nowadays are simply too soft and pampered, going so far to say that students in their day would carry their bags regardless of weight without complaint. The schoolteacher stresses that these concerns affect the health and wellbeing of children, and should not be so casually dismissed as a another attempt at coddling them.
The post has since been shared over 4,600 times on Facebook.
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