A recent letter sent by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD Ministry)has directed several States and Union Territories to chalk out guidelines to limit the academic burden of school bags carried by students. The maximum weight of the school bags has been set according to the classes they are enrolled in.
Just after the letter was received, states like Delhi issued circulars to their education directorates to adhere to the center’s instructions with immediate effect. The Delhi Directorate of Education simply notified its schools to limit the weight of school bags for children studying in classes I to X.
The circular states that students are studying in Classes I and II should not carry school bags of more than 1.5kg in weight. Whereas the weight of school bags for students of Classes III to V has been limited to 2kgs to 3kgs. Classes VI and VII have a weight capping of 4kgs. Followed by Classes VIII and IX at 4.5 kg and Class X at 5kgs.
In the circular, it was mentioned that Schools operating under the Delhi Directorate of Education should follow textbooks of and prescribed by NCERT, SCERT, and CBSE. Also, the number of textbooks in each class should be as per the prescribed guidelines, and the teachers should design timetables which clearly state which textbooks the students should bring for each class to avoid heavy baggage on their shoulders.
“Students from Classes I and II will not be given any homework, and no subjects other than Hindi, English, and Mathematics will be studied in these classes. The number of textbooks has been limited to three only” it said.
Coming to classes VI to X six textbooks have been prescribed out of which three textbooks are for language subjects and one each for Maths, Science and Social studies. Also, the schools are required to inform the students in advance about the textbooks and notebooks required for the next day of teaching.
In the circular, it as mentioned that “Students of all classes will carry only one notebook for each subject. Assessments like exercises, projects, Unit Tests and experiments will also be carried in only one notebook. Teachers shall not ask students to bring extra books or materials to school. “
Lastly, a statement in the circular stated that children should be taught to carry school bags using both straps, instead of slinging their school bags over one shoulder. It also stated that it was necessary for students to keep their school bags down when they are waiting for school transport as well as when they are attending morning school prayer.
This directive is a conscious effort of the Ministry of HRD to minimize the health threats of heavy schools bags as well as to promote well being of students. Heavy school bags have an adverse physical effect on growing children as their vertebrae column and knees can get damaged by carrying too much weight. This weight is, in turn, increased when students bring textbooks, homework/ classwork notebooks, subject guides, water bottles, rough work notebooks, and lunch boxes to school.