Deputy Minister Kalaya floats E-book idea to avoid schoolchildren having to carry heavy bags

Deputy Education Minister Kalaya Sophonpanich says she wants to introduce E-books so school children will no longer need to carry heavy schoolbags loaded with books.

The deputy minister made the remark in response to a news report about a 14-year old school girl in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen who is suffering from scoliosis and has a bent spine, which her mother suspects was caused by carrying a heavy schoolbag since she was nine.

Khunying Kalaya said she is concerned about the girl’s case, but is not convinced that her bent spine was caused by carrying a heavy schoolbag.

However, she said that she would like school children to carry fewer books and replace them with E-books, so the children can read them on more portable digital devices.

Mr. Suthep Chitayawong, secretary-general of the Office of Basic Education Commission said, however, that the E-books idea should wait because most schools are not ready and the issue needs to be studied and assessed by the Educational Techniques Department.

However, he said he had issued a circular to all primary and secondary schools reminding them that the weight of schoolbags should be kept within the global standard of 10-20% of the weight of the child.

In Thailand, 10 years ago the average weight of a schoolbag was set at 15% of the child’s weight, said Mr. Suthep.

For instance, he said a Pathom 1-2 student should not carry a bag weighing more than 3kg, Pathom 3-4, not more than 3.5kg and not more than 4kg for Pathom 5-6.

Mr. Suthep also advised parents to check their children’s teaching timetable to make sure that they do not carry unnecessary books.



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