Heavy schoolbags: STU proposes comprehensive standard textbooks to tackle perennial issue

Jisin Nyud

SIBU: Sarawak Teachers Union (STU) has suggested the use of comprehensive standard textbooks for teachers and students as one of the ways to tackle the perennial issue of the children lugging heavy bags to school.

STU president Jisin Nyud said these textbooks should also come with a set of guides that provides teachers with supplemental teaching materials, as well as ideas and activities to be included in their lessons throughout the year.

“A comprehensive set of standard textbooks for teachers and students, according to the design and focus of the curriculum, should be provided by the Education Ministry to replace the old textbooks, as a
way to reduce the use of workbooks,” he said when contacted yesterday.

On the use of workbooks, Jisin noted that despite the guidelines distributed via circulars, the teachers would still turn to the workbooks – on the basis that the content is updated every year, unlike the old textbooks where the content has not been edited, reviewed or updated for years.

As a result, he said some teachers would not even use the old textbooks in class, where they are also asked to incorporate modules and other printed materials in their teaching.

“Can you imagine — with the textbooks, workbooks, photocopied-modules and other printed materials, they would definitely make the pupils’ schoolbags even heavier than before.

“If we could have a much more comprehensive set of textbooks, I don’t think the teachers and students need other printed materials.”

Jisin made these remarks were in response to Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik’s recent statement saying that the ministry had formulated a strategy to resolve the issue of heavy bags by implementing several immediate measures, including drawing up guidelines and recommendations for students, teachers, parents and schools.

A study last year found that textbooks and activity books contributed only 28 per cent of the weight of schoolbags carried by primary school pupils.

On this, Jisin said: “The issue of heavy bags has long been talked about and there is no end to it. There have always been suggestions on how to resolve the issue, but none have yet work out.

“Adjusting the students’ timetables to include only three or four subjects a day and having all activities to end in the classroom are good suggestions.

“If there are three or four periods allocated for some of the subjects and the teaching and learning (programmes) are well planned, I believe that most of the activities would end at the end of the lesson – they include the students’ written exercises. This can be one way to reduce homework.

“The parents also play important roles. They must nurture the habit of checking and organising their children’s bags every day,” Jisin stressed.

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