Bengaluru schools experiment with textbook-in-tablets to reduce heavy school bag worries

Schools try alternatives such as a ‘no bag day’ to bring down backpack worries.

53166094Schools are divided on reducing the weight of school bags, an issue health experts have been raising time and again for its adverse effect on growing children. Some schools are using technology, while others are employing traditional ways to reduce their pupils’ burden.

Trio World Academy in Sahakar Nagar has rolled out a Learning Management System for its middle school this academic year. Tablets preloaded with digitised textbooks, embedded multimedia lessons and practice tests are the way ahead, the school believes.

There is a bonus as well. This gives them a more interactive form of learning. “Digitised textbooks also make it easier for teachers to engage the students,” Trio World Academy managing director Naveen KM said.

By 2017, Daffodils English School in Sanjay Nagar aims to customise textbooks to suit students’ requirement and load them onto iPads. “We have already set up a laboratory with 40 iPads that teachers use for drawing projects and explaining concepts. There are 40 teachers trained to use the device and are developing subject curriculum to replace textbooks,” the school’s correspondent Chinnappa AP said.

Experts say that school bags should ideally not weigh more than 10% of the child’s body weight. Heavy bags could result in acute lower back pain, chronic shoulder pain, scoliosis and postural deformities, according to Dr Sharath Kumar from the department of orthopedics, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute.

Children in private unaided schools were found to be carrying the heaviest bags (5.6 kg) in a recent survey the state government commissioned.

Not all schools agree that technology is the only way.

Little Flower Public School in Hosa kerehalli has a ‘No Bag Day’ every Wednesday for Classes 1 to 8 for the past five years. “Children only get lunch boxes or sports kits. Teachers have been trained to handle classes without textbooks or note books,” said principal B Gayethri Devi.

The school did try tablets as a pilot for an entire month in one class two years ago. “It wasn’t a win-win situation. On excess use of technology, I see signs of migraine, eye irritation and radiation.”

The Delhi Public School (DPS) has not been able to roll out tablets due to concerns expressed by parents.

“They are mostly concerned with eyesight. So we haven’t been able to take off with it,” DPS board of management member Mansoor Ali Khan said. The school has lockers in each desk, where students can safe-keep their text books.

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