Published: 17th May 2019
OPINION: Should students be made to carry school bags like donkeys? Absolutely not
John Monterio quotes American aunthor Lawrence Wright's saying 'A donkey is a very useful beast of burden'
Those who visit bars, also called by regulars as watering holes, may be familiar with an illustrated poster of a camel’s visual with the caption, “A camel can go without a drink for a fortnight; but who wants to be a camel?” Lawrence could have said a similar thing about a donkey, “Schools prepare students for jobs, including as beasts of burden.”
People who travel by trains must have noticed that the red-shirt brigade of ubiquitous porters, the beasts of burden on the platform, is a vanishing breed. Instead, sweepers dominate the scene. When menial jobs are advertised by the railways, thousands of graduates apply. Should red-shirt coolies return to the platforms as porters, many of today’s students would be eligible to apply because they have experience in carrying school bags weighing half their weight to school and back.
According to a media report dated May 4, 2019 from Bengaluru, the Department of Primary and Secondary Education, on May 3, had issued guidelines about the maximum weight of bags that can be carried by students to schools.
As per the instructions issued, the weight of the school bags should not be more than ten per cent of the body weight of the individual students. Schools cannot prescribe homework for first and second standard students. The Department of Public Instructions has been asked to observe the third Saturday of every month as No Bag Day. Activities like Science experiments and shows, general knowledge, study clubs, painting, colouring, devotional songs, patriotic songs, maps, sports, Math and abacus can be undertaken on those days.
The government’s move, which will be implemented from the current academic year itself, was based on a pilot study undertaken by the Centre for Child and Law and National Law School of India University in various schools. Dr Niranjanaradhya feels that the weight of bags can be reduced if an arrangement for clean drinking water is made at schools.
Schools have been asked not to prescribe notebooks which have more than 100 pages and to encourage students to use lightweight bags. The government circular states that students in class I and II can carry 1.5 to 2 kg, class III to V can carry two to three kg, class VI to VIII can carry three to four kg, and finally, class IX and X students can carry up to five kg.