By Anu Manhotra:
We send a huge jumbo elephant inside the school bags of our kids every day.
Breathing problem; spinal injury; shoulder, neck and back problems are rising amongst students because of their heavy school bags. Every parent knows this. So do school teachers but why are all of us turning a blind against this problem?
So, to find an answer, I spoke to the school management and teachers because as a mother, I cannot see my child in my pain. In fact, I’d rather not see any child in pain.
But did I get an answer from them? No, not really. They just told me it is the fault of the “timetable” as books must be carried according to that cursed schedule. But then it gives birth to another question – who prepares this timetable?
Anyways my questions were not welcomed with warmth rather with wrath, so I came back home and thought that this time I’ll not ask any questions, rather I’ll give them positive suggestions (though I never wanted to use this term for teachers as most of them hate these).
But a mother’s fight continues…
To let the ‘elephant’ out of the bag, the very first thing that I needed to handle was the timetable. For a Science lesson on Tuesday, my child must carry not just the textbook but also the class notebook and the test notebook (for daily tests). All of this is mandatory according to the school.
Can you imagine the weight of the bag now? One textbook and two notebooks for each subject with the timetable desperately fitting in six-eight different subjects each day. I don’t think any of us adults carry so much load on a daily basis. Imagine doing that to children.
So, I suggested the school to allow children to carry only class notebooks for three days and the textbooks on the other three days. To me, this seemed like an easy and compatible way to solve the problem, but I received “NO” as an answer.
Now my next question is, where have those teachers gone? Those who felt for the children?
Solutions, suggestions, tips, and remedies are all available it’s just that we don’t want to do anything about them because we all are so busy – be it parents or teachers. We just don’t have the time to observe or even care about the pain of our children.
However, I believe in “never give up.” So, this time, I wrote a message in my son’s diary – “Respected Ma’am, with complete faith in you and the school management, I request you all to look into the matter of “Heavy Bags.” If I may suggest (I am sure you will agree too) that school should keep textbooks and other materials like art and craft supplies on the premises so that children can travel light every day to school, wearing big smiles.”
I would like to mention here that I am not talking about great locker systems in classrooms as not every school can afford it but I am sure every there are already enough cupboards that can be put to good use.
But did I get a yes? No, not really. The answers and the reply that I received from the school are not worth mentioning.
Finally, after all, the effort I put into solving this problem, I have another question. What is the definition of education in the present world? If you ask me I would say: Education = Burden (Mental + Physical).
If you are a teacher, you have a lot of power; please talk about this concerns with the higher authorities at the school, please. If you are a parent, you have even more work than a teacher or a school principal, that is to save your child from this unnecessary burden. All these kids have is ‘us’ – parents and teachers.
Anyway, I have not given up yet; we have the PTA coming up. Can you suggest some tips to win this battle?