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Guidelines issued on reducing weight of school bags

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The Education Department is concerned about the stress and fatigue that might bring to students by overweight school bags and calls for cooperation and action of schools and parents to address the problem.

In a circular with the guidelines on reducing the weight of school bags together with a leaflet on "How to help your children to reduce the weight of school bags" issued to primary and secondary schools today (August 28), the department encouraged schools to draw parents' attention to the problem of overweight school bags, and to solicit the co-operation of Parents and Parent-teacher Associations to help disseminate the message.

The guidelines for teachers and parents on reducing the weight of school bags have been uploaded to the website of Curriculum Development Institute at http://cd.ed.gov.hk/be/eindex.htm.

According to the guidelines, schools are advised to foster among students the habit of packing school bags every day so that only those definitely required items such as textbooks, exercise books and stationery items are carried to school.

Parents should be urged to select school bags and related items made of lightweight materials and to remind their children not to bring to school unnecessary items such as magazines and toys.

Schools should review if the timetable is suitably arranged. They should minimise as far as possible the number of subjects for each day and design the timetable in a way that lessons requiring students to bring a large number of textbooks, exercise books and heavy materials, such as atlas, drawing paper and cardboard, are evenly spread over the week.

In selecting textbooks, schools should take into account the weight and size in addition to their educational value for teaching and learning. Schools should avoid using too many supplementary workbooks or exercises. The Education Department will continue to explore with publishers ways to reduce the weight of textbooks.

On the choice of exercises, teachers may use loose-leaf or single-page worksheets in giving homework. The worksheets can be distributed to students one at a time so that they can be conveniently carried around. Schools can design and adopt a variety of approaches and styles of homework such as searching information from the Internet, doing experiment and presenting oral report.

In addition, the provision of storage facilities in schools will obviate the need for students to carry books, stationery items, water bottles and other articles to and from school every day. If space permits, schools should review the adequacy of furniture items, such as lockers, bookcases and shelves, and make necessary adjustments within financial resources.

Meanwhile, teachers should give allowance to students who fail to bring textbooks and exercise books. A more positive approach, such as giving clear instructions beforehand on the items required for each lesson, should be adopted rather than penalizing students.

The guidelines issued to schools also carry examples of effective measures adopted by schools in reducing the weight of school bags.

Some examples include setting the maximum number of assignments for each subject as part of the homework policy; allotting a tutorial period in the timetable for pupils to complete part of their homework at school; and encouraging the use of drinking fountains so that pupils need not bring drinking water to school.

End/Wednesday, August 28, 2002

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