Even as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) sent out a notification asking schools to lessen the weight of school bags by adopting various measures including lockers in schools and reducing reference books, most city schools say that they have already been following the practice for several years.
Part of the reason why school bags are already a bit lighter is the state government’s recent notification and subsequent inspections to check the weight of school bags. From revising timetables to sharing textbooks, increasing ICT activities and reducing the size of notebooks, city schools say that they have already taken initiatives to ensure lesser weight of school bags.
At Kendriya Vidyalaya, BEG, principal RK Lale says that for the last three years, the weight of school bags has been kept in check. “Our main focus is on the primary section. Students on the same bench share the textbooks and even the notebooks are of 100 pages. NCERT reference books are kept in the library for students and hence they are asked not to carry reference books,” he said.
Some schools like Vikhe Patil Memorial School have provided lockers to students so that they don’t have to carry books home, eliminating any scope for increase in weight of school bags. “In fact, we do not give homeworks to students from Class IV onwards and only give them worksheets for practice at home,” said principal Nandini Charles.
While the CBSE circular mentions the use of ICT techniques, some schools have already adopted smart solutions to reduce weight of bags. “Book sharing, avoiding extra books and lockers are all in place. But we have gone one step ahead by initiating smart classes, wherein we teach students using audio-visual aids as part of computer-aided learning,” said Amruta Prabhu, principal of Lexicon School.
However, one aspect which the circular missed out was specifying the weight of the school bag, something which is already mentioned in the state government notification as not greater than 10 per cent of the body weight.
Parents on their part agree that schools have started taking initiatives to reduce weight of school bags but feel that more steps are needed. “There are no lockers in my child’s school and besides, the day is so long. There are two recesses and if I count the weight of all the books and the tiffin, it is much more than 10 per cent. I go to the bus stop to drop and pick up my child, so that he doesn’t have to carry the bag,” said Savita Satav, parent of a Class V student.
Most schools complain parents are not cooperative and insist on sending unnecessary items to school like water bottles which adds to the weight. Priyanka Vyas, the mother of a Class IV student, admitted that she did do it but blamed it on school authorities.
“In our area, there is a problem of municipal water supply and that’s why most establishments mix borewell water. I tasted the water in school once and thought that it tasted different. I don’t want my daughter to drink that water. Had the school been able to install a good filtration system, why would I make her carry additional burden?” Vyas said.