School bags plea issued 4 months before death
Ella Lee and Gary Cheung
A circular urged schools to help cut the weight of pupils' bags more than four months before Thursday's tragedy in which a nine-year-old boy was apparently pulled 20 floors to his death by his heavy school bag, it emerged yesterday.
However, educators said yesterday that schools did not have the necessary resources to provide lockers and parents had not helped tackle the problem.
Police said Lee Ka-kit was carrying a bag weighing 3.8kg when he fell to his death after leaning over railings outside his home in Wu King Estate, Tuen Mun. The bag's weight apparently shifted as he leaned forward.
In August, the Education Department issued a four-page circular to all primary and secondary schools, urging teachers and parents to help students reduce the weight of bags.
The guidelines said schools should arrange timetables to evenly spread lessons requiring a large amount of books. It also called for more lockers and loose-leaf files for homework.
Wong Lai-ping, headmistress of Yan Chai Hospital Law Chan Chor Si Primary School in Tuen Mun, where Ka-kit studied, said the school had tried to reduce the weight of pupils' bags.
'We have lockers for students, but students have to share, so some do not like leaving their books here. Also, they often need the books for homework,' she said.
Principal of Yau Ma Tei Catholic Primary School, Cheung Chi-hung, suggested speeding up the process of whole-day schooling. Mr Cheung, whose school is a whole-day institution, said his pupils could leave their books at school because they did not share classes.
The Government has set the target for full implementation of whole-day primary schooling for 2007/2008.