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DepEd urged to implement measure to limit weight of school bags

ANGELES CITY, Philippines – Reelected Angeles City Rep. Carmelo Lazatin has expressed concern over the health of school children, especially those enrolled in private schools, amid reports that scores of them went back to classes last week, burdened with school bags weighing about half as much as they do.

Lazatin introduced in the 14th Congress House Bill 6644, An Act Limiting the Amount of Bags Carried by Children in School and Implementing Measures to Protect School Children’s Health from the Adverse Effects of Heavy School Bags.

The bill was not passed but he appealed to school authorities nationwide to consider implementing it anyway.

Lazatin cited reports of recent random weighing showing that pupils bring school bags that weigh as much as 50 percent or even more of their body weight.

The bags are filled with textbooks, workbooks and notebooks. This is not to include the jug of water and lunch box, he noted.

“I think this aberration has been going on nationwide for years now, as indicated by the expensive and huge school bags being sold at supermarkets and department stores. Most of them are fitted with wheels, but to be sure, the kids have to lift these bags at one time or another on their way to and from their classes every day,” he said.

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Lazatin cited medical experts who have recommended that schools should limit the weight of bags to less than 15 percent of the students body weight.

A 1988 study conducted by the Hong Kong Society for Child Health and Development showed that 4.54 percent of Grade 3 to Grade 6 students have back problems ranging from mild to serious spinal deformities due to the heavy bags they carry to school daily, he said.

He also cited a 1994 Scandinavian study showing a high probability for spinal problems in children who carry backpacks.

The study found that 53.7 percent of children who carried their packs on one shoulder complained of back pain. Forty-five percent of two shoulder pack wearers complained of back pain. Interestingly, the highest level of back pain, 68.6 percent, carried the bag in one hand.

The study also concluded that females were more likely to experience backpack-related pains than boys, he said, quoting the study.

“Pupils are supposed to listen to their teachers in school, and read their textbooks at home. In the end, having pupils carry heavy load to school will be counterproductive, with many of them physically deformed as adults. Heavy load in school could be one reason why so many now suffer from spinal injuries, including slipped discs,” he said.

He also urged schools to consider investing in lockers where pupils could keep their textbooks and other school needs, instead of bringing them to and from school daily.

Lazatin lamented that most pupils who are required to bring heavy bags to school are those from private Catholic schools.

He cited the case of the Mary Help of Christians school in Mabalacat, Pampanga where the weight of bags carried by its grade schoolers is about 40 percent of the children’s body weight.

Lazatin vowed to re-introduce his bill against heavy school bags in the coming 15th Congress so that Congress would have enough time to consider it.

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