The Armenian Health Ministry sets new requirements for schools
The physical and mental workload of school students has raised concerns in Armenia. To counter this issue the Ministry of Health has set some new requirements for schools, including one limiting the weight of school bags.
Students’ parents used to complain about heavy school bags that are stuffed with textbooks. Experts also confirmed that it can be harmful to children’s health, namely that it can lead to spinal curvature and some other disorders.
The Health Minister ordered that the total weight of textbooks and school kits that students carry for lessons shouldn’t exceed weight limits set by specialists. The weight limits vary depending on the children’s age:
- The maximum weight of a school bag for children in grades 1-2 shouldn’t exceed 1.5kg;
- for grades 3-4 – 2kg;
- for grades 5-6 – 2.5kg;
- for grades 7-8 – 3.5kg;
- for grades 9-12 – 4kg.
Arman Sagatekyan, a member of the Armenian National Assembly’s Standing Committee, raised this issue in parliament in November last year, drawing the Health Minister’s attention to the problem. In his words, he weighed the school bags of his 12-year old son and their friends, which weighed on average 5kg (only textbooks, school kits and sportswear weren’t included).
Now that the Health Minister’s order has been made public, the MP hopes that parents will take the implementation of this order seriously and that the ministry will consistently apply its levers to control the situation.
The school bag weight limit for each age group has been set in accordance with accepted international standards.
The same order also provides for a longer recess time. A schedule of academic workload distribution for children of different age groups has been developed and presented to teachers.
Regarding the degree of children’s performance capabilities at different ages, it was decided to move the subjects that are the most difficult for learners’ perception:
- for grade 1 – to the 2nd lesson;
- for grades 2-4 – to the 2nd and 3rd lessons;
- for grades 5-12 – to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lessons.
In addition, first graders will be exempt from doing homework.