SCHOOLS have been directed to rearrange their timetable so that only three to four subjects are taught each day instead of five to six currently. This directive is part of the Education Ministry's four-part guidelines to tackle the long-standing problem of heavy schoolbags affecting mostly primary school pupils. Apart from school management, the guidelines, which were contained in a circular issued on Sept 12 by Deputy Education Director-General Aminudin Adam, also involved teachers, students and parents. According to a report in Sin Chew Daily today, the ministry's secretary-general and director-general found during their inspections of schools on Aug 17 that schoolbags remained heavy, particularly those carried by primary school pupils, despite efforts made to reduce the load. The ministry believed this was because students did not bring their books according to the timetable. Based on a study carried out by the ministry last year, schoolbags were too heavy mainly because students were carrying too many books, including exercise books stipulated for their lessons, books for additional reading, dictionaries, comics, water bottles, food containers and stationery as well as sport attire and special clothing for other activities. The study found that the ministry-approved textbooks and exercise books would constitute only 28% of the overall weight if brought according to the timetable. Under the new guidelines, the school management is required to engage PTAs or parents regularly on the subject of heavy schoolbags. The guidelines for teachers included requiring them to tell students clearly what they have to bring to school next day. Meanwhile, parents on their part will have to prepare suitable schoolbags, encourage and guide their children to pack their schoolbags according to the school timetable.