Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Burden Of Education

All the schools reopened on Monday this week. JJ was excited to go to her new school—St. James. She immediately found a new friend named Cloey. It so happened that Cloey spoke good English too; so they spent too much time talking—until the teacher decided to separate these two chatterboxes! So now JJ sits with a boy.

Each day, Mia would send JJ off to school. She has to park her car at some distance away from the main gate of the school, and then walk through all the traffic jam. Many parents would bring their children up to the main gate, but Mia has to bring JJ all the way to her classroom.

Unlike in the kindergarten, JJ now has quite a lot of books. And it is strange that the school requires these kids to bring all their books everyday. I've read somewhere that an ant can carrry up to 6 times its body weight. So maybe the schools these days are trying to make ants out of our kids.

My JJ weighs about 16.5kg and her school bag weighs about 6.5kg. In terms of percentage, JJ is carrying about 40% of her body weight to school daily. Maybe 6.5kg doesn't sound like much, but JJ just couldn't carry her bag. So she had to drag it instead. That's why Mia had to carry her bag for her all the way to her classroom.

But what about after school? Both Mia and I are working, and we've made the arrangement for JJ's grandpa to fetch her from school. However, all the parents can only wait outside the front gate. JJ had to drag her bag from her classroom to that front gate.

On wednesday, I went to look for a new bag for JJ. I tried to cast my mind back to the good old days when I was still schooling. Somehow I don't remember having had to carry 40% of my body weight. Maybe the education system back then was much simpler.

Anyway, while I was searching for JJ's school bag, I was pleasantly surprised to find quite a number that had wheels on them. This problem with heavy school bags isn't something new, so much so that someone came up with the idea of making school bags with wheels.

To give you an idea of the size of school bags these days, check out the above picture. The one on the left is the usual bag I'd use whenever I travel outstation for a few days; the one on the right is JJ's new school bag with wheels. She's very happy that she needs not drag her bag from her classroom everyday; and she's even pulling her own bag from the car too.

This morning, her school held some sort of seminar for parents whose children are just starting primary one this year. Amongst others, someone raised the issue about the heavy school bags. But apparently it's not a new issue. There is just no way around it—the kids must bring all their books everyday. A teacher blamed the weight on the drinking water and sanwiches that the kids bring along it their school bags.

I usually can't tolerate this kind of nonsense, but as I've said before, I must be getting old and soft somehow. I dread the longs years ahead—too bad that JJ has to be a part of this education system.

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