School health: ‘Noise from power looms affecting learning at schools’

Report says high drop-out rates linked to environmental factors.


Our Correspondent June 07, 2015
PHOTO: PAKISTANTODAY

FAISALABAD:


Noise pollution from power looms impedes students’ ability to learn in schools near industrial zones. This was observed by Rabia Qurban Baghdadi, a faculty member of the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, in her study titled Impact of Power Looms Operating in Faisalabad on Minds and Faculties of Schoolchildren.


The report, made public on May 15, says while the power loom industry was major source of employment in Faisalabad, noise pollution from looms was affecting cognitive development of schoolchildren, especially those under the age of 10 years.



The report notes that this could be one of the factors behind high drop-out rates.

“When children cannot understand lessons, they are unable to respond to teachers positively. This is often frustrating for teachers who scold them or punish them for failing to grasp various concepts,” she wrote.

She said this created resentment among students who then preferred to drop out of schools than sit through lectures they feel they would never understand.

Baghdadi wrote, “Healthy minds grow in healthy environments. Any disturbance in the environment can delay mental development.”

She said noise pollution was an unstudied phenomenon in Faisalabad.



Random samples of school-going children were selected for the study. They lived in neighbourhoods near power looms.

Baghdadi wrote that a large number of respondents knew what power looms were and said they could hear their noise but could do nothing about it.

Some 53.3 percent respondents said they could not pay full attention to lessons due to the noise.

Baghdadi wrote that 50 percent respondents said noise from power looms impeded their ability to understand lessons taught by teachers in classrooms.

“Similarly, 78.3 percent respondents said they could not participate in class. Some 51.7 percent children were unable to attend their school regularly because they reported frequent headaches,” she said.

She said responses to teachers’ questions were also delayed.

She said some 81.7 percent students said they did not answer questions because they could not hear what the teacher had asked.

Baghdadi suggested that power looms should be moved away from neighbourhoods. She also called for a ban on running power looms during school hours. The report said that this phenomenon should be addressed at a policy-level and long term urban planning initiatives were needed to ensure that schools were kept away from industrial zones. “Noise pollution is one only of the impediments children face in these areas. All of these should be looked into by planners,” she said.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2015. 

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