Monday, May 3, 2010

Have lockers in schools so kids can store their books

SO, the experts have identified a relationship between heavy schoolbags and the spinal deformity known as scoliosis.

Common sense should have alerted us to what heavy schoolbags can do to young spines.

Sixteen years ago when my eldest daughter started Year One, I remembered how heavy her bag was.

Fortunately, the headmaster had seen the problem coming much earlier than most of us parents did and instructed his students to leave their textbooks in the drawers of their desks at the end of the school day.

Despite that, I still wanted to buy a bag with wheels for my daughter. But she said no.

She had seen how clumsy such bags were when drawn along uneven pavements. On rainy days, the bags got wet, and the books, too.

The retractable handle not only added more weight, it also hurt the back when the bag was slung over the shoulders.

Back then, I had often told my wife the way to resolve the problem of heavy bags was for education to go paperless.

At a time when netbooks and e-readers were unheard of and laptops were still heavy both in weight and price, e-learning seemed so attractive an alternative. But my wife was skeptical -- not everyone was computer-literate back then, and fewer still could afford laptops, she said.

Today, with netbooks getting cheaper and more powerful, and e-reader prices set for a dive, we are still far away from taking the load off our children's bags.

Although with current technology, we can compress encyclopaedias into thumbdrives, we could still be light years away from being able to remove textbooks from our children's educational staple.

To do so will take a lot of work. The formats of school textbooks would have to be rewritten and made more suitable for use within portable computers.

Schools would need to have basic facilities including more plug points to allow students to recharge the batteries of their computers as they use them in class.

And that's not including figuring out what to do with the textbook publishers once education goes paperless.

Terengganu pioneered e-learning when it gave out laptops to Year Five students over a year ago. I wonder how successful that project has been, and if it can be replicated for city schools as well.

After all, it would be a shame for city folk to boast of access to the latest amenities when our kids still lug heavy bags to schools daily.

Right now, the faster alternative would be to build lockers for students to store their textbooks. It may cost a bit but it is the best short-term solution.

After all, it makes little sense to produce a nation of bright sparks with bad backs.

The only problem with having lockers at school would be funding.

Are parents ready to shoulder the financial burden of paying for the lockers and maintaining them if the schools do not have the financial means to do so?

As it is, even collecting PTA fees from some parents is difficult.

No comments:

Post a Comment