NERVOUS ON being asked why the weight of his school bag was above the permissible limit and he didn’t carry books as per the timetable, a second standard student of Camp’s S M Choksey School blurted out: “Mummy didn’t follow it, I will tell her.”
The student’s complaint echoed across city schools, allowing principals who were pulled up for not adhering to the school bag weight norms to blame their parents. Most principals of the nearly 50 schools, which were inspected in both PMC and PCMC areas on Thursday, complained that despite sending repeated reminders to parents, school bags were double the stipulated limit as parents stuffed bags with unnecessary books and tiffins.
At Choksey School, 10 of 11 students whose bags were inspected had crossed the limit with bags stuffed with extra books, including those not mentioned in the timetable, multiple compass boxes, heavy tiffins and water bottles. Asked why changes haven’t been made, Principal Neeta Lodhi said, “We installed water filters after the last inspection so that children don’t have to carry water. We revised the timetable and kept more periods like arts, PT, games that don’t need books. Yet, parents feel lazy to check the time-table and as a result, burden them with extra books. What can schools do?” she said.
At St Anne’s School in Camp, the situation seemed better as most bags were found to be lighter.
“They have a good system of keeping books in the school lockers and shelves created in desks,” observed Meenakshi Raut, Assistant Director of Education, while inspecting a class of Std VIII students.
Meanwhile, in the special inspection drive conducted in the city on Thursday, 24 schools were inspected in Pune city wherein a total of 248 bags were weighed.
Of these, 110 school bags were found to be nearly double than the permissible weight.
“While 55.65 per cent school bags in Pune city checked were found within the prescribed limit, the bags of 44.35 per cent students were found to be over the limit. At some schools like Sinhagad Springdale, 100 per cent bags were found to be over the prescribed weight limit while schools like St Helena’s and DES English Medium School were 100 per cent compliant,” said Ramchandra Jadhav, Deputy Director of Education, Pune, who spearheaded the inspection drive in October and cracked the whip on schools that were burdening school children.
As per the norms set out by the state education department based on the directions of the Bombay High Court, the weight of the school bag should not exceed 10 per cent of the child’s total body weight.
The drive in October found that students were carrying a lot of unnecessary baggage to schools such as dictionary, extra school books and workbooks, books of subjects not included in timetable, heavy tiffins and water bottles, multiple compass boxes, sport-related books, skipping ropes and skates.
“We will be issuing showcause notices to the school principals. We will demand an explanation from trustees and management on why the school is not complying with the norm. Also, we will instruct them to seriously take up this matter with the Parent-Teacher Association at the earliest,” added Jadhav.