There have been several instances of children complaining of shoulder, neck & back-problems on account of significantly heavy school bags, of all the things! This has been a common observation during our morning walks, when school-going children are often seen waiting for their school buses to arrive. Many a times, we see their mothers or fathers or grandparents carrying the load and waiting with them. This sight often makes me wonder where we are heading. Studies indicate that 96% students carry school bags which are more than 20% of their body weights.
Medical professionals suggest that the school bags actually should not be hanging down the kids’ backs, making it much harder for them to carry, not to miss, it could in the long run and in effect damage their spine posture, resulting in a permanent hunch. Increasing loads on the backs can result in damaging the well-defined ‘S’ curve of their backs and cause serious conditions like Scoliosis. Ideally, the shoulder strap needs to be shortened and the load needs to be balanced between the middle of the back and the shoulders. Also, the bags should have waist and chest straps, in order to have their weight evenly distributed across the body. All this for carrying such a lot stuff to school every single day.
As students graduate to their next class from Primary to Middle to High School, the subjects in their curriculum increase and so does the load on their backs. Why can’t we think of something better to resolve this? In this tech savvy age, there is a very high likelihood for preferring electronic textbooks (or e-books).
Children can use their school lockers for keeping their art & sports supplies, dictionaries, umbrellas, raincoats, etc. This can at least get some load off their backs. Heavy water bottles too can be done away with if clean & hygienic drinking water is made available in all schools.
The use of e-books needs a paradigm shift with respect to our mindsets. The variety and range of tablets available these days can easily address the problems associated with heavy school bags.
Check out some of the major advantages–
• Bright, colorful & interactive learning experience: The multimedia content (images, sound, video) has always appealed to students and inspired them to read
• Environment friendly: By not having to waste precious paper & save our ecology
• Cost effectiveness in getting the entire year’s curriculum, in addition to the reference material too - e-textbooks on tablets cost about 50-60% less than print textbooks
• The newer tablets can contain over a lack of books, more than anyone can read in a lifetime!
• Tailored content & markups- The eBook can be designed in a manner with features like markups, highlighting, pronunciation guides, etc. And supplemental pages for different levels of students, as per their needs & capabilities. In fact, the possibilities are immense!
• Sharing and collaboration among study groups
• Reduced storage space
• Up to date study content
• Enjoyment and variety
• Ease of carrying and usage
• Improve retention for students
• Lower environment impact by taking care of our ecology
CBSE in India has initiated interactive classrooms with teachers using soft-teaching material very extensively in the middle and higher classes. The diagrams (with audios & visuals) are much more info-graphically enhanced and improve teaching effectiveness as well. Plus, teachers have a wealth of supportive and interesting material to showcase to the students.
It’s imperative indeed that the hardback textbooks would very soon be a thing of the past and replaced with eBooks at almost all levels of education.