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Schools, parents in Mumbai blame each other for burdening students with heavy bags

Schools say that parents allow children to carry fancy bags, extra books, heavy bottles, tiffin boxes etc, which increase the weight.

mumbai Updated: Jul 31, 2017 00:52 IST
Puja Pednekar
Schools admit they have not succeeded in reducing the weight of the bags
Schools admit they have not succeeded in reducing the weight of the bags

Lack of parental supervision and awareness are among the reasons why school bags in Mumbai continue to weigh more than the prescribed limit — 10% of student’s weight — say educators. Schools say that parents allow children to carry fancy bags, extra books, heavy bottles, tiffin boxes etc, which increase the weight.

After the state introduced a school bag policy in 2015, many schools banned heavy bags. They implemented bag checks and altered timetables to ensure that students carry fewer books. Some even installed drawers and lockers for students to store extra material.

Despite these steps, however, schools admit they have not succeeded in reducing the weight of the bags.“Students don’t follow the timetable,” said Suresh Nair, principal, Vivek Vidyalaya, Goregaon. “If both parents are working, the students carry two to three tiffin boxes to school every day to eat before going for tuitions.” Nair admitted their school started checking bags last year after the policy was introduced, but they stopped it because students were not complying with it. “We have adjusted the timetable so that they don’t have to carry too many books, but they still bring tuition books and other extra material.”

Similarly, St Joseph’s Convent School at Bandra has been struggling to make the bags lighter for the past two to three years . “We changed our timetable, allotted double periods and implemented checks, but it has not discouraged children from carrying heavy bags,” said sister Blanche Rodrigues, school principal.

Rodrigues said children carry fancy bags, which are heavy. “These bags have many pockets, extra cushioning, and heavy buckles. Often the empty bag is heavier than the books,” said Rodrigues.

Sacred Heart School at Kalyan has provided cloth bags to students to ensure they do not carry heavy ones.

Some schools said the prescribed limit is impossible to achieve. “We are unable to meet the 10% limit set by the government,” said Rohan Bhat, chairperson, Children’s Academy Group of Schools, which has its institutes at Oshiwara, Kandivli and Malad.

On the other hand, parents say teachers do not follow the timetable. “Close to exam time especially, teachers are in a rush to complete the syllabus and hold classes randomly. Children are forced to carry all books as they do not know which subject will be taught that day,” said Aarti Gosavi, a parent from Andheri. 

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