Children need to reduce the burden of books on their shoulders
By Md. Zillur Rahaman
At the very beginning of the new year, the eyes of every student get a new book for the new class, then the smell of new book pages is a symbol of their inspiration and confidence. In this case, the joy, enthusiasm and excitement of small children or elementary school students are visible. On the first day of the year, the government distributes free textbooks to students across the country by celebrating the book festival.
But the surprising fact is that the school book bag weighs more than the child himself. The burden of books on the shoulders of the child needs to be reduced.
In our country it takes four years to get to class one in KG school. There is no such method anywhere else in the world and this system needs to end. Although the government distributes books to students free of cost, private educational institutions are forcing parents to purchase additional books.
Although there are specific instructions of the High Court in this regard, the burden of extra books is being placed on the shoulders of the children in violation of it. One is not the burden of a book, as one is a stress. Due to this mental stress and physically small children are becoming very weak.
According to doctors, upto 18 years is the best time for physical and mental development of a child. At this time, the baby's bones and muscles are soft enough. At this age there is a risk of bending the spine with a slight injury or pressure. But at this age, every child has to carry the burden of the bag, the child students of some institution have to climb the stairs with the burden on their back.
It is also a very painful event for them. Constantly carrying heavy books on their shoulders puts children at risk of developing long-term complications like arthritis and osteoporosis, which can be a cause of concern for future generations.
If we look at the school-going children, we can see that the young children are carrying huge bags of school books. In many schools 8-10 books are seen only in 2nd-3rd class. However, there is a directive from the concerned department of the government not to burden the shoulders of children with any other books except those approved by the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) and distributed free of cost. However, in order to overcome this situation, the High Court gave an order on December 8, 2016 to enact a specific law prohibiting the carrying of schoolbags heavier than 10 percent of the body weight of primary school children.
According to media sources, kindergartens and many private educational institutions are not only pressuring children to read books, but also doing extensive irregularities.
Among these, the obvious irregularity is the title of the head of the kindergarten, the title that is being used as principal. Ironically but true, the salary of those principals is only between Tk. 2000-2500 and the educational qualification is a bachelor's degree. And the salary of other teachers is in most cases nominal.
The same situation exists not only in kindergartens but also in many privately owned educational institutions across the country. However, teachers are satisfied with these salaries. Basically these are not teacher positions, more like an advertiser and signboard to lure the students.
The main reason is that he is being recognized as a teacher in the area, so that his opportunity to do tuition increases instantly and kindergarten authorities can also, the owners are getting the opportunity to pay them less! This is a small picture of the state of kindergartens in the country. These kindergartens and such educational institutions try to collect extra money by imposing extra books, notebooks, pens, clothes, tiffin boxes etc. on young children, which is on the one hand unethical and on the other hand contrary to the normal mental development of children.
Although there are clear instructions from various quarters of the government, it seems that the burden of excess books cannot be controlled in any way. By doing this, on the one hand, as well as being physically troubled, it is also under pressure mentally. The parents are forced to buy additional books even though the government has given new books free of cost to primary and secondary school students. Apart from the books prescribed by the NCTB, the private schools are handing over the list of additional books to the parents. Due to which the parents are crowding the bookstores under some compulsion. In this, low-income parents are struggling to buy extra books for their children.
It is said that today's children are the future leaders of the nation and the artisans of nation building. However, due to the heavy burden of books on the back of these children, their mental and physical development is being hindered. Experts are urging to reduce the burden of books on children, saying, "Although classroom education cannot be done without books like in developed countries, it is very important to reduce the number of books by any means." It is imperative that educational institutions adopt policies against the imposition of unauthorized books.
If we notice, it can be seen that in every educational institution, the pressure of teaching numerous unauthorized books starts after passing the first and second class. As a result, children are forced to read many books imposed by the authorities in addition to the books approved by the government in every class.
About 13 to 14 subjects are also imposed on children in private schools especially kindergartens in urban areas. Institutions include these books in the textbooks for commercial purposes with lakhs of Taka from the publishing houses. NCTB warns every year against teaching these unauthorized books but the results are zero. Because there is no other monitoring of the government including the ministry to suppress this crime. When asked about how to reduce the number of books, many teachers say that even in their time there were too many subjects in one book. A book combining a chemistry, physics and a zoology, even if we can do this, the number of books will decrease remarkably.
It is known that the neighboring country India has already taken initiatives to reduce the burden of books on the shoulders of children. Apart from fixing the number of books according to class, the country has started an experimental project on making classroom education bookless. It is necessary to consider whether 'tabs' can be handed over to children instead of books. The weight of those tabs is 250 to 350 grams and whether all the 'print version' of the textbook can be added in the tab, it can be considered. As a result, textbooks in different languages will be available at the fingertips of children.
In our country, apart from primary level government institutions, there are many institutions, there are thousands of schools, which are also the responsibility of the ministry. Every kindergarten classifies unwanted books. Those institutions that have grown like a frog's umbrella belong to the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education. Every day across the country, parents are standing at the school gate during the start of school and holidays.
Books, water pots, tiffin boxes, color-pencil boxes are filled with bags full of accessories and their children are entering the school. It's just that, along with the books prescribed by the board, there are books with different names in the name of co-curricular. The weight of the bag is seven to eight kg. Children will be benefited by introducing timely education system by government specific policies without burdening the physical and mental development of children, and they will play a strong role in nation building.
On December 8, 2016, the High Court issued a directive to reduce the burden of back books on children. It said that children cannot carry bags weighing more than 10 percent of their body weight on their backs. The High Court directed the government to enact laws in this regard so that the physical and mental development of the child is not hindered. It was directed to execute the judgment within six months of receiving the copy, which was a landmark move by the High Court. But unfortunately, that judgment has not been implemented till date. Those concerned are also skeptical about whether it will be implemented at all.
Realizing the importance of the matter, the school authorities should take initiative to reduce the burden of books and books of the students without sitting for the instructions of the court or the government. Associations of private schools can take initiatives centrally. Parents also need to be aware and involved in this matter. To save the children, not the pass rate, but the quality of education should be increased, the burden of books should be reduced. It is up to those concerned to figure out how that will happen. The school authorities should understand that and parents also need to be aware.
Everyone should realize from their own standpoint that it is really important to reduce the burden of children's books. Schoolbags are being placed on children's shoulders with piles of books, water bottles, tiffin boxes and umbrellas. The burden of bags at this age has a serious impact on the physical development of the child as well as on the mental development. May the child's educational life be joyful, it is necessary to realize that children should develop not only by reading books, but also by laughing, enjoying and playing.
The writer is a Banker and Columnist