Solving the heavy schoolbag issue isn't rocket science

Azly Rahman

Modified 27 Jan 2019, 3:26 am

COMMENT | We have a 20-year-old school dilemma treated as if we need rocket scientists to find a solution – the problem of heavy schoolbags, the 'payloads' our future astronauts are carrying.

Children carrying anything above 8kg is not good, as I recall an orthopaedic surgeon once saying in an interview. Even if it is lighter than that, not carrying it properly could result in injury.

My question is, what makes it so difficult to solve this problem? Often, we read about taskforces needing to be created to start thinking about approaching a solution.

Such taskforces will need special grants, and the solutions will still need "feedback from the public" (like black shoes, white socks). Then further research needs to be done, to see if the weight of the bags correspond with the need for children to do more work at home, and how this will contribute to the critical success of this or that programme and so on and so forth.

Then all these will be raised in cabinet meetings, and be again brought back and forth to the various levels of ministerial groups of decision makers, and suggestions passed down to district education heads, who will do more fact-finding, interviews, observations and await parental responses, and then go back to the ministry, which will report to the cabinet again, before it is brought to the next parliamentary debate.

There, opposition and supposition parties will spend hours debating on the acceptable weight of schoolbags, and then there will again be fierce arguments that will also spiral out of control, and the people will get emotional and then there will be walkouts and then the debate will be postponed to the next sitting… and then… and then… time waits for no man, no woman, no child, and then they grow up.

The loss

From 2000 to the 'great mythical visionary year' of 2020, the generation that carried heavy schoolbags will probably grow up in the footsteps of bodybuilders Malik Nor, Solomon Esmanto, and former Mr Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger (who did, of course, go on to have a political career).

Meanwhile, in advanced industrialised countries, we see children growing up to become the Mark Zuckerbergs, Jeff Bezoses and Elon Musks of the world, or top scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and humanists...

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