KUALA LUMPUR: Utilise e-books or online learning system for primary school pupils to lessen the “heavy bag phenomenon”, urged education groups.

Online learning portals such as 1BestariNet should have provided ample learning material for teachers as substitute for additional workbooks without having pupils bringing extra workload to school.

National Union of Teaching Profession president Kamarozaman Abd Razak said this “heavy bag phenomenon” had often been overlooked by the ministry.

Describing the banning of unapproved workbooks as a good start, Kamarozaman said that to enhance a better learning environment, virtual learning environment (VLE) implemented by the Education Ministry could help in addressing the heavy bag issue.

“We hope the ministry provides an alternative for the teachers and students to bring fewer textbooks and workbooks to schools. Perhaps, having lockers at schools would allow the pupils to leave their textbooks in school instead of taking them home," he said.

“Plus we have the online learning portals. Teachers should be able to use this as an extension to their teaching materials instead of having more books."

He added there should be an aligned education framework as there were too many subjects for the pupils to learn at a primary level.

Parent Action Group for Education founder Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said government should address the problem of heavy bags with e-learning alternative such as the 1BestariNet.

“If this is conducted as it was planned by the Education Ministry, we would not be discussing workbooks and heavy bag issues.

“What is important for the pupils to have is a proper balance between academic and non-academic subjects.

“A child who only concentrates on books will not be able to contribute much to society. I believe a holistic environment at schools will groom the child better,” Azimah said, adding that the additional workbooks would only burden the teachers with more work load.

“The teachers have so much on their plate. They have other responsibilities as well. I believe parents are able to guide their children with the additional workbooks at home and the pupils would not have the time to do the extra revision at school. So the books are just adding load to their bag.”