Published: 15th June 2017
Load off: Telangana government to soon issue guidelines to regulate the weight of school bags
In a move which could bring a major relief to school students in Telangana, the State government is planning to issue guidelines on the weight of school bags soon
Parents and experts have been crying hoarse that there is a need to lighten the burden that students carry over their shoulders in the name of school bags. But over the years little has been done to lighten this burden. As the blame game of 'schools to to be blamed' and 'parents to be blamed' continues, a ray of hope has come from the Telangana government which will soon issue guidelines to regulate the weight of school bags.
In this regard, the government had sought the help of the School Education Department which has already submitted its report."There is a need to understand what constitutes a school bag. We also need to regulate the number of books that students should carry to school and amount of homework that's given. Since there are guidelines to regulate these schools are functioning the way they want. The report will highlight all these aspects," said an official from the Education department, who did not wish to be named. As per the Children’s Schoolbag Act 2006, a school bag should be only 10% of a student’s weight. However, students in the city, depending on the curriculum they follow carry bags that weigh anywhere between 15-25 kg.
Ilyas Syed, whose daughter studies in ClassVIII has been raising the issue of reduction in the weight of school bags at every parent's teacher meeting. "Every time the teachers say that parents should ensure that children get books as per the time table. But what they overlook is that they have four books each for English and Hindi and three for maths which have to be carried daily along with other subjects books. The practice of subscribing additional textbooks by schools I feel need to be looked into by the government," he said.
Students can use the books at home and during classes, they can refer to the soft copy. A lot of teachers also use projectors to teach. We are moving away from textbook teaching
Mohammad Rizwan, Vice Principal, Indus International School
Another parent of a Class VI student drops her child to the school only because it is difficult for her to walk with the heavy school bag. "In fact, many kids get dropped by to school even if it is walkable because of the weight of the school bag. I am even fine having two sets of textbooks so that one can be kept at home and one at school. It may cost us double but it will save a lot of effort," Vidya Prasad said.
While states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Delhi have mandated schools to use lighter school bags and have made textbooks slimmer, Telangana hasn't done much in this regard.
While several schools have lockers, most students use them to keep things like skates, swimming suits, test papers, and books that are used only once weekly. City-based child rights activist Achyuta Rao said that several parents have complained that their children are complaining of back aches caused by carrying heavy backpacks. "Instead of one 300 pages notebook schools should make three 100 pages book. Instead in a bid to make money schools are prescribing extra books. Students are also asked to carry dictionaries," he said.
A survey by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India in 2016 revealed that 68 percent of children between seven and 13 years were at the risk of backaches and hunchback due to heavy school bags
Textbook in tablet
In a bid to reduce pupil's burden a few schools in the city are using technology. Indus International School is moving towards being paperless. Students of classes VI-XII are provided with soft copies of all textbooks. "Student can use the books at home and during classes, they can refer to the soft copy. A lot of teachers also use projectors to teach. We are moving away from textbook teaching. In fact, till class V there are no textbooks for students,” said Mohammad Rizwan, Vice Principal of the school.
Like this International school where access to laptops has reduced the burden on their shoulders, students of government schools also do not face the issue of carrying heavy bags, albeit for a different reason altogether. “When there is always a shortage of books in government schools, how will the bags ever be heavy? asked Rekha Srinivasan, Director, United Way of Hyderabad, an NGO that works with government schools in Bahadurpura.
What's in child’s bag?
Express inspected the school bag of a class VII student and found that she carried 17 books, including notebooks and textbooks, a rough notebook, a storybook, a stationary pouch, three tiffin boxes and a water bottle. This load is further increased when the students have to carry project works, worksheets and art kits. Thus, students carry nearly 20-30 percent of their body weight over their shoulders.