The Express Tribune Editorial 17 October 2019

Fixing schoolbag weight


Small children carrying big and heavy schoolbags has become a common sight in our country. Now there is hope that the long-standing problem of burdening little children with heavy bags would be resolved to the relief of children. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government would soon enact a law to fix weight limit for schoolbags. The provincial law department has vetted the proposed legislation and the soon bill will be tabled in the K-P assembly for approval. An official of the provincial administration told the Peshawar High Court on October 15 that in the draft legislation, the government had categorised weight limit for various school classes and the maximum permissible weight limit for schoolbags would be six-seven kg. The court told the provincial government to expedite the process of legislation in this regard. One of the justices observed that sometimes minor students had to walk long distances carrying heavy schoolbags. A lawyer has moved the court seeking its intervention to fix limits to ever-growing weight and size of schoolbags, contending that the carrying of heavy schoolbags affected physical and mental growth of students, and the government has long been ignoring this crucial issue. Medical experts say carrying of heavy schoolbags could cause neck, back and shoulder pain to children. The petitioner also referred to research studies in support of his contention and said the maximum limit for the weight of schoolbags should be below 10 per cent of the child’s body weight.
We hope other provinces will also enact similar laws to protect children from heavy schoolbags. One wonders despite a constant warning by experts and educationists why the government has remained unmoved on this grave issue affecting the mental and physical growth of our children. Procrastination by the government on this score has already caused much trouble to students and their parents. It is a failure on the part of teachers too. Aristotle has said, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.


Election manifestos


Election promises are meant to be forgotten. This is at least true in the case of Pakistan. To our politicians, election manifesto is a mere piece of paper: history provides the evidence. Hardly ever have we seen our rulers focus on coming good on their election promises– the way they focus on other, “more important” issues, of “national interest”. Our governments are liable to sacrifice public interest in the name of national interest. They have over the years shown that — with no remorse and regret whatsoever — they can go back even on the promises they make so vociferously and repeatedly.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has a new breed of politicians in its fold — well, mostly — but the way its government is taking an about-turn on almost every promise made to the people before the elections show the customary disrespect the politicians tend to have for their very own election manifestos. For instance, how Fawad Chaudhry, a federal minister, was trying to pave the way for his government to start backtracking on an election pledge of core importance for a core group of its supporters, the youth. In a bid to justify his government’s inability to create the 10 million jobs his party pledged as part of its election manifesto, Chaudhry — while speaking at a conference of engineering institutions in Islamabad — urged people to realise that if they “start looking towards the government for jobs then the whole framework of our economy will collapse”.
And when grilled on social media, Chaudhry came up with the same old explanation of being quoted out of context. He may indeed mean what he clarified later in a tweet, but that a minister is required to be careful with his words when speaking on behalf of the government goes without saying. Had he learnt to be careful, he would not have been left “astonished” on “how every statement issued by me is made a headline without context”.


October 17, 2019

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