SHOWING CONCERN for the health of school students, the Central Board of Secondary Education has once again directed schools affiliated with it to take necessary measures to reduce the weight of school bags. The CBSE has urged schools to play a significant role by sensitising students, parents and teachers on the health aspect to avoid ‘irreversible impact’.
In a latest circular issued on Monday to heads of schools affiliated to it, CBSE Director KK Choudhury (Academic, Research, Training and Innovation) said, “Heavier school bags are known to have adverse effects on health of growing children and if such bags are used for a prolonged period, the impact may be irreversible. Young children, whose spine is at a crucial stage of growth, are the most susceptible ones to hazards such as back pain, muscle pain, shoulder pain, fatigue and in extreme cases, vulnerable to distortion of spinal cord or shoulders.”
In this context, Choudhury said schools can play a significant role by sensitising students, parents and teachers. In the circular, the CBSE has suggested some “feasible measures” to schools, teachers and parents:
“Schools may exhort students to abide strictly by the timetable and relate to the adverse effects of fatigue caused due to heavy bags on their day-to-day performance in class. This may either be done by integrating this knowledge across scholastic or co-scholastic areas or by sharing it during school assemblies,” the circular said.
The theme such as “Adverse Effects of Heavy School Bags” may be included in various activities and functions conducted in school, the circular stated.
“Students should be encouraged to repack their bags on daily basis and avoid carrying unnecessary articles, textbooks, workbooks that are not needed,” it said.
The CBSE has directed schools to conduct random checks of school bags. “Schools may check bags randomly to ensure children stick to the weight limit. Schools may ensure there is adequate supply of potable water for everybody and counsel students not to bring heavy water bottles along. This may be possible if all the teachers, including principal, consume the same water that is taken by their students. Regular quality checks of water may also be ensured,” Choudhoury stated.
The CBSE has urged schools to design weekly timetable in such a way that minimum number of textbooks and workbooks are required each day. “It should be evenly spread over to the entire week. Schools may take extra care to preclude the possibility of carrying large number of books/workbooks, atlas, drawing board etc. or other article by students.”
The circular said students need not carry extra pair of sportswear throughout the day rather they may be allowed to wear it for the entire day.
“Timetable could also have separate provision for students to complete their assignments/projects during the school hours under direct supervision of teachers,” the circular stated.
On the homework front, CBSE said, “It is reiterated once again that all the tasks related to projects and activities can be done as group activities during the school hours. It should not be prescribed as home work as it leads to getting the school bags bigger… There should not be any homework assigned to students of Classes I-II and they need not bring their school bags along.”
CBSE said textbooks for Classes I-VIII should be light weight. “Schools should not prescribe too many additional and supplementary textbooks which are at times voluminous, costly and designed in an unsound manner.”
CBSE urged principals to counsel teacher to provide clear instructions to bring textbooks before hand and not penalise students in any way for not bringing textbooks/workbooks. “The fear of such measures may compel many students to bring most of the books/workbooks making their bags heavy.”
Schools have been urged to encourage teachers to use alternative methods of teaching like the ones based on Information and Communication Technology to reduce the dependence on textbooks.
CBSE suggested that teachers may make pairs of children to share textbooks.
During PTM parents, CBSE said, parents should be advised to be mindful of health concerns of their wards and purchase lighter school backpacks with two taut stripes.
“For primary classes, parents may be told to remind and supervise children in repacking their bags every day as per the timetable and ensure that their wards do not carry unnecessary items such as story books, playthings etc. to school,” the circular said.