Matthew Chung Ho Ming

Dear Editor, 

I am writing to the Hong Kong Post to express my concern regarding the phenomenon of secondary students’ school bags being overweight. It is found that the average weight of a Form 3 student’s school bag is 5 kg, which is undoubtedly too heavy for them. Some people suggest that students should not bring unnecessary items so as to solve this problem. However, I must point out that the situation can only be improved if textbook publishers, schools and students join hands to tackle the problem.

As a matter of fact, a school bag weighing 5 kg, which is 5 to 10% of an average Form 3 student’s weight, is definitely a burden. Such a heavy weight can cause the youngsters a handful of adverse health effects. For example, the heavy weight would obstruct their vertebral column from being fully straightened, thereby hindering the support of the upper body weight together with the extra mass, seriously affecting the normal growth of teenagers. In the long run, it is envisaged that school children will suffer from abnormal growth of vertebral column, spinal cord being damaged and their growth in height being restricted. It is also expected that these children may have higher chances to suffer from painful knees as their cartilage may be worn out due to the pressure exerted. In order to maintain the health of our future generation, it is of paramount importance to address the problem.

First, textbook publishers play an important role in solving the problem. I am aware that textbooks for secondary students, normally contain a hundred pages and weigh around 1 kg each, are considerable heavy and thick. Bringing textbooks for a few subjects is already a herculean task, let alone taking worksheets, stationery and folders to school. Therefore, it is proposed that the publishers can publish thinner and lighter booklets according to topics. In doing so, students only need to bring the necessary sections of the book, which would alleviate their burden substantially. It is also suggested that text-book publishers can produce e-books, accessible via tablets like iPad and laptops. Having the electronic version, students only need to bring an electronic device weighing barely more than 2 kg but containing all the necessary teaching and learning materials. These methods are practical and can bring about great benefits to students’ health.

Next, we must also be reminded that schools can effectively deal with this pressing issue. They should start allowing laptops and tablets to be part of the campus life. At present, the school can offer more storage space for every student, which can allow students to place their items like musical instruments, heavy reference books and dictionaries in the lockers. In that case, the weight problem can be soothed as students no longer need to bear bulky items back and forth from home to school every single day.

It is also my hope that schools can organize talks to introduce the harm a heavy school bag can cause so as to raise students’ awareness toward the weight issue and the necessity for choosing a schoolbag which can protect the students’ vertebral column. Such school bags exert its weight evenly on students’ shoulders, eventually causing minimum harm and putting the least pressure to their backbones.

Last but not least, apart from textbook publishers and the school, students themselves should be most responsible for their own health. After all, they are the ones who decide what to bring with them to school. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for students to plan carefully what items are necessary for their schooldays, and to adopt a habit of tidying their school bags daily. This habit not only promises them a better health, but it also nurtures them into organized and responsible teens. If students must carry heavy items, they are encouraged to hold them in their arms instead of carrying them in the back in order to minimize the impact, reducing harm to their health.

In conclusion, for the sake of teenagers’ physical health, textbook publishers, schools and students should cooperate and solve the issue together while tackling the problem. Understandably, some inconvenience may be caused, but the price is indisputably well worth the effort when it comes to a healthier next generation.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Wong


Content:         7/7
Organisation:   7/7
Language:       7/7

Student Writer
Matthew Chung Ho Ming
GT (Ellen Yeung) School

Candidate for 2015 HKDSE (5** in English; 5** in Paper 2 Writing)

Matthew’s work effectively demonstrates that being a competent writer, one not only needs to be linguistically competent, but he should also be knowledgable, viewing an issue from various perspectives. As reflected in his work, Matthew understands perfectly the concern of what each relevant stakeholder and what possible actions each party can take, making his solutions practical and sensible. In terms of language, Matthew’s paragraphs flow well, using a wide range of paragraph development patterns. His mastery of complex sentence structure and patterns is also commendable.