Move to ease bag burden
Officials want to take a weight off students' shoulders by making their school bags lighter.
The Education Department is concerned that bags full of books and sports gear are too heavy for young spines and could particularly affect primary pupils.
A spokesman said it was important that measures were taken to tackle the problem.
New guidelines have been circulated to schools.
'Students should be encouraged to develop the habit of packing school bags every day and be discouraged from bringing toys, magazines and unnecessary items to schools,' he said.
'Schools should advise students on the types of school bags as well as the correct posture for carrying them.
'Parents' co-operation and support should be sought so that the advice given to students at school will be reinforced at home,' he said.
Timetables should be designed to avoid students bringing lots of books on one day.
The department also said lighter textbooks should be favoured.
The guidelines also suggest schools give students lockers to store books, stationary and personal items, to save them from being carried around.
Drinking water should be provided to save pupils having to carry bottles, the spokesman said.
'Teachers should avoid punishing students for occasionally failing to bring books or other items in class,' he added.
Schools have been urged to implement measures they consider practical 'given their own circumstances', with a view to reducing the weight of bags.
A new pamphlet, Reducing the Weight of School Bags, will be distributed to parents.
Members of the public can also collect the pamphlet at the department's district offices.
It aims to explain the possible harmful effects of overweight bags, and encourage students to select school bags and items made of lightweight materials.
Students are also reminded to help children pack bags every day if necessary, according to the school time-table.