WHEN the parents of a primary school pupil weighed his schoolbag on Monday, it came in at an astonishing 12kilogrammes, too much for any child to be expected to carry.
Davanand Sinanan, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers' Association (TTUTA) said the parent called to complain to him about the amount of books the child had in the schoolbag, a complaint that was not new.
Sinanan who was participating in a joint press conference with Education Minister Anthony Garcia and other Ministry of Education officials on Monday afternoon, called on the minister to ease the burden from the backs of the children. The conference was held at the Education Ministry Tower, Port of Spain.
Sinanan said: “Please let us find a way to ensure that our children don't have to be lugging around these very heavy bags. As a secondary school teacher, I know about something called a timetable so that children don't have to bring all their books every day to school. I know that primary schools also operate with timetable but the parent called me and expressed the level of concern that the child could not carry the bag.”
He said: “Of course we have had reports from our medical experts indicating that, that is not good for the overall health of our children, that there have been instances where persons when they become adults suffered with back problems which can traced to when they were children carrying these every heavy bags around. We need to work with our colleagues in the primary schools to ensure that our children don't have to be carrying these very heavy bags around.”
Garcia in response said: “ Yes Mr Sinanan, we are very mindful of the undue burden that is placed on the backs of our children and towards this end, Cabinet has approved the establishment of the learning materials evaluation committee, and the mandate of that committee is to facilitate the establishment of an approved list of text books and learning materials to be used in our schools.”
He said: “ We are sure that when that committee provides its report, we will not see the ugly state where our students, our children have to carry around very large book bags so we are at one with you and we certainly will do everything in our power so that our children would not have that burden.”