Despite directions from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) which say no to school bags up to class II and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) which suggest only two textbooks for classes I and II, no one is bothered about how much burden children carry on their backs to school every day. While the majority of the affiliated schools are not aware of any such directions, the school bags just keep increasing in weight.
Carrying backpacks with textbooks, notebooks, tiffin boxes and water bottles that weigh around 2-4 kgs, children aged seven or eight are required to climb stairways every day after walking a few minutes inside the school from the drop-off zone. While there are schools which ask parents to send school bags with a school name on it, very few schools like Chitkara International School, Strawberry Fields World School and DC Montessori in the city have actually responded to the directions of the board by relieving the children of the stress.
After issuing a circular in 2004 that schools should not allow school bags up to class II, the CBSE issued another circular in 2009 asking schools to prescribe only those textbooks that are mandatory by the NCERT. The schools were also asked to make necessary arrangements wherein students up to class II can deposit their books in the school itself. However, all the private schools in the city refer different books of various publications as per their choice and most of them do not have facilities of deposition of books at the end of the day.
Reema Dewan, principal of Delhi Public School, Sector 40, says, “Children do bring school bags but they are never heavy as they are suggested to bring only a tiffin box, water bottle and worksheet given for practice.”
The spokesperson for the Saupin’s School, Sector 32, says that the school does not ask students to bring all books on a particular day and they have to follow the scheduled timetable.
However, their claims do not hold water since schools are teaching seven subjects in classes I and II: English (referred three books), Mathematics, Hindi (two books referred), Environmental Science, Moral Science, General Knowledge and Drawing as well. Therefore, children cannot come without all the books, and the schools also do not have enough storage to keep their books within the premises. St Stephen’s School, Sector 45; Shishu Niketan, Sector 22; KBDAV School, Sector 7; Manav Mangal, Sector 21; Guru Harkrishan Public School, Sector 38; New Public School, Sector 18; Saupin’s School, Sector 32; and Stepping Stones School, Sector 37 are amongst the schools where children are asked to carry school bags with all the books.