PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has ordered constitution of a working group to examine the ‘occupational load’ of school bags, their dimensions and weight with particular reference to the negative consequences of such heavy loads on the developing spine of students.

The group will work on the issue pertaining to use of backpacks as school bags, and propose measures for reducing the weight as well as any other allied matters.

The special secretary elementary and secondary education (E&SE) will head the working group as its chairman while director of Provincial Institute of Teachers Education, a nominee each of the director education and director general health services will act its members.

According to a statement issued here on Sunday, under the terms of reference the working group will examine and frame standard maximum limit of weight of school bag considering the weight of the student and international standards of it not being more than 10 per cent of the body weight of student.

Similarly, it will also propose on how to reduce the weight of books etc carried at one time through timetable adjustments, class work, homework staggering, books, copies’ weight reduction through different printing methods, e-books etc.

The group will also propose methodology of weighing in of bags at schools, communication of these health impacts on students to general public, teachers and students, and how to correctly wear backpack when being used as school bags.

The working group will also propose design changes in furniture of government schools to include tables with storage capacity, cupboards with locker space for students to store books not required to be carried home for homework, any other allied matter. It shall give its recommendations within 21 working days and may co-opt any person it deems appropriate.

It is to be mentioned here that deputy medical superintendent (clinical) of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital Karachi has also raised the issue by writing letters to principals of all schools in the city, pointing out that most of children visiting his clinic complained of stiff neck, shoulder pain and backache which could lead to severe lumbago.

The doctor has requested the principals to take serious notice of the issue and manage a system so that the children have to carry only specific books needed as per daily timetable.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2018