Despite various studies that highlight their dangers and strong guidelines against them, schoolchildren continue to carry heavy school bags.
On Tuesday, a heavy school bag pulled a 12-year-old child to his death. Police said the Class VI student was leaning on the railing and fell because of the weight of his school bag.While the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) has made it clear in its affiliation by-laws that no school will allow school bags and homework for students up to Class II, small children can be seen lining up at bus stops with bags half their size.
Parents please pay heed
According to these CBSE rules, affiliated schools will not prescribe textbooks other than those prescribed by the NCERT. But the implementation of these guidelines remains poor with just a handful of schools taking them seriously.
Even the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which recognises more than 650 primary schools but has never carried out any spot checks to ensure that schools are following these guidelines, is waking up after the incident.
"This is no doubt a shocking and tragic incident but we have never had any spot checks before. This is an eye opener and we will send notices to schools and make sure no child carries very heavy bags," said Mahendra Nagpal, president, MCD's education committee.
The issue of heavy school bags, however, is not something new. The Yashpal Committee, in its report in 1993, had come out with suggestions to lessen the load of school bags. It spoke about the need for concise books that use graphics instead of verbose texts to explain concepts, the need to split books in to two halves for two terms and to eliminate the need of textbooks in primary classes altogether.
Countless meetings have since taken place but the ground reality remains far from satisfactory.
"My 8-year-old girl, who studies in class 2, takes a 5-kilo bag to school every day. The children have busy time tables and she doesn't want to leave behind any book," said Anita Kaul, a resident of Greater Kailash - I.
The problem is acute in smaller unknown schools; no checks by the CBSE means they have a free run.
"There is no way to justify the heavy school bags. We try to assign lighter books to children and the senior students have lockers where they can keep their books," said Jyoti Bose, principal, Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan.