EVEN AS two students of a school in Chandrapur district held a press conference to highlight the plight of excess weight of school bags, the latest report by the state education department states that 90.1 per cent school bags were found to be within the permissible weight limits. Of the 5 lakh-odd bags inspected in state, over 4.7 lakh school bags were found to be within the prescribed limit.
Sharad Gosavi, deputy director of education (primary), said that in July, over 5,200 education officials had inspected school bags at over 28,000 schools of the over 1 lakh schools in the state. “Of these, 90 per cent school bags were within the prescribed weight limit. Of the 5.3 lakh bags inspected, over 4.76 lakh bags were within limits. According to the HC norms, weight of bag must not exceed one-tenth of the body weight of the student,” he said.
Interestingly, four districts in the state —Nandurbar, Hingoli, Ratnagiri and Washim —have shown 100 per cent compliance to the weight norm. Ironically, while in Pune district, the officials have reported 89.37 per cent compliance, in Chandrapur district, where students complained about excess weight, shows a 93 per cent compliance. Even state officials refuse to believe the statistics off-hand, especially in districts that report an exceptional record. “It is a little hard to believe that in four districts, not a single bag was found overweight. Hence, we have decided that in certain places may be third party inspections are needed. Then we will be able to get the real picture,” said Gosavi.
Meanwhile, though these are the state figures, The Indian Express on inspecting some schools found that change seem to have been initiated with parents vouching that schools have attempted corrective measures in last one year. However, when it comes to the statistics, parents disagree that only 10 per cent schools might be violating norms.
“In the last one year, notebooks were replaced with files and school started asking students to keep books in class desks,” said a parent of a Std V student at St Mary’s School.
At a few schools though, parents said that teachers were at fault. A parent of a Class V student at St Vincent’s School said, “Suppose there is an English class, there are at least four books for it like grammar, dictation book, dictionary and so on. Should the teacher not specify which one to carry? She insists the students carry all books.”