An association of publishers has challenged the Directorate of Education’s directions to Delhi schools — fixing a maximum weight for school bags for students from Classes I-X — in the Delhi High Court.
The publishers claim the fixed limits are “unscientific” and “irrational”, and that the guidelines are an attempt to indirectly enforce the exclusive use of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) books in schools.
Following the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s (MHRD) guidelines directing that the weight of school bags be reduced, the DoE had issued a circular on November 27, fixing the maximum weight of school bags.
The circular — issued to heads of government, government-aided and unaided recognised schools — said all schools running under DoE have to follow textbooks prescribed by SCERT, NCERT and CBSE.
In a petition to the High Court, The Federation of Educational Publishers in India said the classification of school bag weights “has been done without any basis or scientific study, and is totally arbitrary in nature”. They also stated that by prescribing a fixed weight of the bag and instructing schools to follow textbooks prescribed by SCERT, NCERT and CBSE, the government is “trying to achieve compulsory enforcement of exclusive use of NCERT books indirectly, which it cannot do directly”.
Justice Hari C Shankar said the publishers have no locus to challenge directives on the weight of school bags, but asked the government for a response on imposing NCERT textbooks, and set January 9 as the next date of hearing.
“We will be opposing this. Our priority is to ensure that students are not over-burdened,” said Director of Education Sanjay Goel.