Two months after it asked schools to reduce the weight of bags carried by students, the state school education department is clueless on whether the bags have actually become lighter.
The department had announced surprise checks after November 30 to find out whether schools have managed to limit the weight of bags to 10% of a student’s body weight, as recommended by a panel of experts. Schools that failed the checks were also supposed to receive show-cause notices, while schools that took innovative steps to reduce the weight of the school bags were to be given appreciation certificates.
However, neither the deputy directorate of education nor zonal education officers have any record of checks being conducted. BB Chavan, deputy director of education, Mumbai region, told Hindustan Times that he has not yet received any reports from the ward-level officers.
“We were busy with the winter assembly session and other programmes, leaving us with no time to check the status of the reports,” said Chavan. “But we will undertake a review of the situation soon.”
On the other hand, there is a possibility that zonal education inspectors have not yet submitted the reports to the directorate. “A report on the checks conducted by ward-level officers on school bags is lying on my table, but I have not yet had the chance to look at it,” said Anil Sable, education inspector, north zone (central suburbs).
Experts have also raised concerns on whether the checks have even been conducted. Schools that Hindustan Times spoke to said that school department officials are yet to visit them. “We took several steps to reduce the weight of the school bags after the government formulated the school bag policy, but no one from the department has come to check them yet,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, HVB Global Academy, Marine Lines. The department is now planning to ask schools to evaluate themselves on their implementation of the policy. “We are thinking about asking schools to maintain a log on the weight of the school bags, in which they can mention the average weight of school bags on a daily or monthly basis,” said Nand Kumar, principal secretary of the department. “They can upload this information on the SARAL website or send it to the department,” he added.
“The school bags policy GR doesn’t mention that the government will monitor the weight of the bags,” said Kumar, adding, “Schools have to do that at their own level.”