Heavy school bags take toll on children

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In absence of regulation by authorities, school going kids in Kashmir are forced to carry heavy school bags— taking toll on their health. 
The heavy baggage, experts believe can cause joint deformity in school going children who are in tender age.
“There are chances of deformity of spine in students who carry heavy bags to their school and later take their burden back to home,” said Dr. Mir Mushtaq, a senior orthopedician.
He said heavy bags being carried by small children whose bones are soft can lead to joint deformity in small children and can lead to other multiple health problems in students of other age groups,” Dr. Mushtaq said.
Interestingly, it has been observed that students enrolled in private educational institutions are forced to carry school bags heavier than the recommended weight.
While there is no supervision from the concerned authorities, the private schools out of their own will prescribe additional books to the students particularly in lower classes and force them to carry all the books to school everyday.
“In other states a new concept has been introduced that students should not carry their heavy bags to schools but here in Kashmir, school authorities force the students to carry all the books to their schools everyday,” Dr. Mushtaq said.
In absence of any regulation, the heavy bags are posing serious health risks and developmental issues to the growing children, a recent survey has revealed.
As per the latest survey carried by survey by Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (SPM) of Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, 83.7 percent of children carry bags heavier than 10 percent of body weight.
The survey has exposed the gross neglect of the recommendations regarding school bags. The survey conducted by SPM department has revealed that over 50 percent school children “complained of backache”.
“The intensity of the back pain ranged from mild to severe,” the SPM survey revealed. Interestingly, the students mostly enrolled in private schools are forced to carry heavy bags to schools despite the Children’s School Bag Act 2006 being in place. 
As per the Act, a schoolbag should not weigh more than 10 per cent of a child’s total body weight. Ironically, the authorities in school education Department have failed to ensure implementation of this Act. While the authorities are in slumber, the parents complain of severe health problems faced by their small school going children. “My kid is in 2nd standard but everytime he loses his balance when he tries to hold the burden of his heavy bag on his shoulders. He always complains of back ache after returning from school,” said Muhammad Lateef, a parent from Hyderpora.
In some cases, it has been observed that parents of these small children carry their (student) bags to their bus stop or schools but later the students carry their bags on shoulders while returning from school.
“My kid is in 6th standard but he has to carry eight books and nine notebooks everyday to his school. At times some besides additional books as well. Whenever he returns from school his back is always bent,” said Farooq Ahmad Lone, a parent from Nowgam, Srinagar.
Meanwhile, Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) Dr. G N Itoo said the matter has been brought into the notice of the department and strict instructions will be issued to all the private schools to balance between the book load on students and required time table.
“We will speak to them as well. Time table should be set in such a way which can reduce burden on students,” Dr. Itoo said.

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