When I weighed my son's school bag recently, I realised that it was a hefty 6kg to 7kg, even though he packs according to the timetable. This is more than 10 per cent of his body weight.
Research has shown that school bags should not weigh more than 10 per cent of a child's body weight.
Heavier bags can lead to a host of health problems that may even carry over to adulthood. These include undue stress on the spine, back and neck muscles, leading to back, neck and shoulder aches, and even numbness in the arms.
As children's bones are still developing, long-term ill effects may include a hunched back and affected growth.
A heavy bag also poses a safety hazard for pupils. It may cause them to lose their balance and fall, especially when boarding or alighting from buses.
Lockers are one way to alleviate the problem, but not all schools provide them, as they are not compulsory.
I am shocked that such an important aspect of pupil welfare is being overlooked.
Perhaps it is time that the Ministry of Education made it compulsory for schools to provide lockers so pupils can store their books without fear of them being misplaced.
Elizabeth Tan Boon Kwan (Ms)