By Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim

WHY are our primary school children afraid of school? I am sure carrying heavy bags full of books is one of the reasons. They are forced to bring the books to school every day on the instructions of teachers. For me, the size of books is not the basic reason for the problem and the solution of any problem should start from the root cause.

The size and volume of books often reflect their quality and good design. Increase in pages means more descriptive photos, which will make learning easy and interesting for small children. Printing of books on glossy paper would keep them for long time and protect them from damage. It will also make books attractive to students and interesting to read.

Then where is the problem? Why don’t we think of keeping the books at homes instead of taking them to schools? The answer is that the teacher wants to make use of the books because it contains questions for students to answer. The teacher wanted his students to answer those questions during class hours after explaining the lesson and he/she wanted to correct the answers.

My innocent question is why doesn’t the teacher ask his/her students different questions without using books, giving children new ideas and thoughts? The answer is the teacher does not want to write down new questions when they are available in books and he wanted to show his work to supervisors and school principal by correcting answers in the book and this has become an acceptable practice.

But school authorities are not concerned whether the student answered the questions given by the teacher after understanding the lesson or not. The teacher is required to show photos in the book while explaining the lesson. This is an easy method. But the same teacher will be able to show those pictures by using a projector or taking large size photocopies of the pictures. Sincere teachers used to do that in the past. There is no doubt that a teacher would be able to make use of the enlarged pictures during classes in the coming academic years as long as the subject is taught.

Unfortunately the teachers, school principals and supervisors are not prepared to follow this painstaking methodology and they preferred the schoolchildren to take that burden on their behalf by carrying huge books everyday to school. I would like to tell our teachers that they should fear Allah in taking care of their students and ask them to leave their books at home.

It’s the right place to keep the books as the small children would be able to study them with the support of their parents or their elder siblings. This will also give teachers an opportunity to show their creativity due to non-availability of books with students during class hours. This is a revolutionary concept and it is high time we apply this system in our schools.

I would like to request school principals, academic supervisors and guides to check the capabilities of teachers in imparting knowledge to their students, other than correcting answers in their books. They should use other indicators and parameters for this purpose. They should also check a teacher’s instruction materials and activities and ask students about their performance. A supervisor will get a correct picture of a teacher when he asks students about his/her performance.

I would like to request the Education Ministry to print books of intermediate and secondary classes after dividing them into small portions so that students will be able to carry them without any difficulty. In fact, some students have divided their huge books to carry those portions that are taught and keep the rest at home. I hope the ministry would follow this good example.

First published on (Saudi Gazette)

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