School in the past decades are only becoming heavier for children in Bangladesh, the array of subjects with multiple books that need to be carried on a daily basis. This puts a heavy burden on student’s physical well-being, which should concern the parents. Schools are simply not doing enough to curb the practice of student’s being made to carry heavy school bags on a daily basis.
There have been legal challenges put forward but this has not resulted in any concrete steps being taken by the government or the school authorities. This leaves all the burden of responsibility on the parents and the children themselves. Whereas, there should be a public health interest from all the stakeholder on this issue; as it affects the next generation’s ability to progress through their academic lives.
Detrimental Health Effects of Heavy Bags
According to a report by American Occupational Therapy Association; a student’s schoolbag should not weigh more than 10% of the student’s body weight. If heavier bags are carried, students would face fatigue, muscle strain, back pain, stress on the spine’s natural curvature and rounding of the shoulders among others. In the long term, these ailments are hazardous to children’s health and well-being.
As children are growing during these prime years, these ailments would affect their development progress and put unnecessary stress on them. Be it their educational progress or their mental and physical wellbeing, all of these factors are affected by this issue.
Situation in Bangladesh and the High Court Ruling
In both Bangla and English medium school, the situation is equally dire. Children are carrying heavy bags way beyond their physical capability. In Bangla medium schools there are standardized books that all the students carry irrespective of schools, but the burden of weight still surpasses the recommended limit. As no government directives were being taken. Concerned lawyers at the High Court filed for writ petition about how heavy school bags are detrimental to children’s health and developmental progress.
As this petition went through the legal system, the end result was a letter sent out by the Directorate of Primary Education in September of this year. The letter as stated by the lawyer the writ petition used the same language as a 2014 letter. No laws or monitoring of this very directive was taken to ensure the bag’s weight was not detrimental to children.
In the case of English medium school, the matter goes far worse. As syllabus differs from school to school and school being under various foreign examination boards; the books vary vastly across all schools. The books are getting heavier and along with multiple notebooks and the water bottle & tiffin box; makes for a tremendous burden on the children. These causes stress on the student in their vital years, where they should be learning and developing exponentially.
Solutions to the Problem
Many experts have suggested multiple solutions to this issue. From the Lawyers of the Writ Petition, it was suggested that a monitoring cell be formed, who could assess the situation and ensure the bags are not becoming a burden to the children. Bureaucratic red-tape and other factors would make this process incredibly slow to adapt; which would not bear any results for the children.
From the school’s side, solutions can be block scheduling which would minimize the number of books taken to school every day by the students. The installation of student locker system would help the students vastly. They would only carry the books they need, which would vastly reduce the weight of the bags. Carrying wide strapped backpacks that distributes the weight evenly can also benefit the students, even rolling backpack would be beneficial for the students.
From the parent’s side, they can ensure the children are carrying only the required books and copies as per their routine. This ensures an all-around effort to ensure the weight of the bags is less than the recommended limit. This would also ensure that children do not non-essentials to their school, which could weigh their bags down.
This issue will persist until all stakeholder takes interest in this issue as a priority, a student might be excelling in academics but if their health fails them in the end. All that progress would not amount to anything, heavy school bags are a bane to the developmental goals of the country. It should urgently be dealt before developing into a crisis.