Saturday 1 October 2016

Pupils bear burden despite high-tech times

Published 30/08/2016 | 02:30

'Today, the cream of our youth will make their way back to school with varying degrees of enthusiasm. And one more time they and their parents will wince at the hefty load of schoolbooks the pupils must cart upon their young backs'. Stock photo.
'Today, the cream of our youth will make their way back to school with varying degrees of enthusiasm. And one more time they and their parents will wince at the hefty load of schoolbooks the pupils must cart upon their young backs'. Stock photo.

Today, the cream of our youth will make their way back to school with varying degrees of enthusiasm. And one more time they and their parents will wince at the hefty load of schoolbooks the pupils must cart upon their young backs.

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We are constantly reminded about how we live in an era of high-technology. Many of us go about each day with a mobile phone in our pockets which has more computer power than the mainframe computer which did the entire civil service payroll calculations a generation ago.

By contrast, the pupils' schoolbags have continued to increase in weight over that same timespan. We cannot really blame the schools or the teachers here.

Many schools have in recent years worked hard to spare parents the expense of buying whole new suites of books each year by instituting a sensible schoolbook rental scheme. Some schools have introduced lockers for pupils which has helped lighten the load on occasion.

But the expectation that new technology will play a role in lightening the schoolbag has been slow to dawn. In recent years we have seen one school, St Colman's College in Claremorris, Co Mayo, take the initiative in this regard.

The school, like many others, remains laudably computer-friendly. But unfortunately the rate of computer usage in place of schoolbooks has declined. The reason, we are told, is simply a matter of cost, with computer equipment costing around €700 compared with about €150 for the book rental scheme.

But it is a shame that young people heading to school should be reduced to beasts of burden. Surely, a more creative approach to funding could be found.

Irish Independent

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