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Opinion

Policy calls for a cap on the weight of school bags – education

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the The weight of a backpack in classes 1 to 12 must be 10% of the body weight of the student who carries it, according to one of the suggestions of the 2020 School Bag Policy prepared by the Ministry of Education of the Union.

Students in pre-primary classes should not carry any school bags, the policy says, adding that there should also be a limit on the weight of textbooks and a mechanism to check the weight of bags in schools.

The policy, in accordance with the National Education Policy (NEP), also suggested that there should be no homework until Class 2. Homework that requires a maximum time of two hours a week is allowed for Classes 3 through 5, five to six hours. a week for classes from 6 to 8 and from 10 to 12 hours a week for classes from 9 to 12.

Following a direction from the Madras High Court in May 2018, the Ministry of Education formed a team of experts in October of that year, with Ranjana Arora, head of the Department of Curricular Studies of the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT), as its convener to formulate a policy on school bags. This team conducted a nationwide survey of 350 schools, nearly 3,000 parents, and more than 3,600 students. While 38.9% of school principals said they felt that carrying backpacks was a problem, 77.7% of parents and 74.4% of students surveyed had a similar opinion.

Under the school bag policy, the panel said that all schools must have a digital weighing machine on school grounds.

A school backpack should be lightweight with the proper compartments and contain two padded, adjustable straps that can fit perfectly on both shoulders, he said. Wheeled transporters should not be allowed as they can hurt children when climbing stairs, says the policy document, seen by HT.

Schools must ensure that midday meals are adequate and of good quality so that children do not have to carry lunch boxes, he added.

“It will be the duty and responsibility of the school administration to provide good quality drinking water in sufficient quantity accessible to all students in the school to avoid carrying bottles of water in the school backpack or reducing its size,” he said.

The class schedule should be flexible, providing adequate space for sports and physical education, reading books available at school other than textbooks, etc., he added.

The policy document also said that publishers could print the weight of each textbook. She added that lockers can be installed in classrooms for students with disabilities to store and retrieve books and other items. Issues related to heavy school bags should be included in the in-service and in-service teacher education curriculum, according to the document.

According to the policy, for students in classes 1 to 2, school bags should not weigh more than 2.2 kg (the average body weight of a child in that age group is around 22 kg). For classes 3-5, the upper limit is 2.5 kg. For classes 5-7, they should not weigh more than 3 kg. For class 8, a school backpack should not weigh more than 4 kg. For classes 9-10, the upper limit is 4.5 kg. And for classes 11 to 12, it is 5 kg. The school journal should be avoided or made thinner, according to policy. For kindergarten students, the policy does not recommend textbooks. For Class I, a maximum of three textbooks with a total weight of 1078 grams is proposed.

For classes 2 to 3, textbooks can weigh up to 1,080 grams. The table progressively advances to allow up to 13 textbooks with a maximum weight of 4.182 grams for students in Class 10.

The Ministry of Education has written to the states informing that all relevant suggestions must be implemented.

Schools in most states in India have been closed since mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some states have allowed students in classes 9-12 to come to colleges to receive guidance from their teachers.

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