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The School Bag gets heavier, are we planting the seeds to a stressful society?.

"Akshay on seeing the barren park, the barren swings, wondered when was the last time did this park was filled with kids; when was the last time did he play any sport." "Ravi's mom has been complaining of his daily schedule. With tuition and school, he barely managed time to do his daily exercise, the one prescribed for his back pain. She still remembers the day at the clinic when the doctor diagnosed Ravi with with scoliosis - a deformity in the spine curvature that particularly affects teenagers. Education, perhaps, has an inelastic demand. Meaning, its cost cannot decrease it importance, same like salt. The cost mentioned above is of two types - the one which the parents will pay in the monetary terms and the other one will be paid by students with their physical and mental health. Schools for children are becoming a menace when it comes to the load schools add. This rat race may generate new managers, new leaders for the future, but they all shall remain 'rats' from within; rats with probably faster processing ability, but weak shoulders to run long.

The heavy bags, the enormous homework, the pressure of grades, are surely making the children despise school. The wide range of subjects that one tackles in this information rich age, the extra weight of the working models and other paraphernalia have made the bags heavier to a dangerous level. People may argue of decreasing weight of the bags owing to the smart classes that are in fashion. But the extra weights of various equipments like physical education training kits, sports and musical instruments that come from the necessitated extracurricular activities which students take up at school levels make much more for the loss. According to various sources, Children are becoming more prone to permanent muscle damage and are showing signs of early onset of grave back problems, given the fact that the weight they carry is 20 to 25 per cent of their body weight, much higher than the prescribed upper limit of 10 per cent by Children's School Bag Act 2006. Equally distressing is the fashion in which these bags are carried on just one shoulder. The physical discomfort affects their attentiveness and ability to learn. Lagging behind in academics then further causes anxiety, affecting their self-esteem. The pressure transcends into tension which becomes the trouble in later life. These problems may not become visible immediately, but they are "healthcare timebomb"; sure to come up later in life. This stands in way of development of a child and the country.

Various forms of medicative centres such as physiotherapy and yoga centres have become more prevalent than ever before. Why this change? Because they have become the need of the hour as they help in coping with stress and are required to prevent them from their early collapse and thus increase their working life. And ironically they increase their life only to add more stress in the coming years. The bags which were then filled with books, notebooks and pencil boxes, will afterwards be filled with laptops and files, to be carried to the offices daily, implying the arrival of onus and stress to handle them properly.

This chronic issue however needs very simple solutions. Locker systems at schools have proved to quite useful in the scenario. It minimizes the weight carried by the kid and makes the necessary items more accessible. "Pack it right, Pack it light"; is the suggestion for the parents to insist that their children pack their bags only with what they need for the next day. Ensuring that the bag is worn on both the shoulders and at appropriate level; between the shoulder and the middle of the back, the posture is straight and the back, neck and shoulder are given break at regular intervals are one of the few practices that shall benefit the kid in the longer time. A balanced level of printed and online study material in schools can help reducing the weight carried to a significant extent. Distributing the syllabus across multiple printed volumes will allow the child to carry only the one that is needed, further reducing the weight. Modifying the education system to be more conceptual and practical oriented instead of driven by books and mugging methodology.

Nikita Rathi