Apart from regular classes and tests in schools, there is something else weighing down Class 2 student Priyanka Verma — her 6 kg school bag.
The Chembur resident attends a school in Ghatkopar and has been complaining of a backache of late. “This could be due to her heavy school bag,” said Priyanka’s mother, Jyoti who plans to take her daughter to a doctor.
Earlier this week, a heavy school bag led to a 12-year-old child in Delhi falling to his death. According to the Delhi police, the Class 6 student was leaning against the railing in his school and lost his balance owing to the weight of his school bag. The boy was found dead in his school.
Ideally, a school bag should weigh 10% of the weight of the child. But no body is enforcing that. “My nine-year-old daughter, who studies in Class 3, takes a 6 kg bag,” said a parent who did not wish to be named.
In 2008, the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) had asked the state government to conduct a survey on whether students were burdened with heavy school bags. This was two years after RG Sindhakar, a retired high court judge, filed a case with the MSHRC arguing that forcing students to carry heavy school bags was a violation of human rights.
Two year ago, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had issued a directive that students up to Class 2 should not have bags. But most students cannot do without a school bag.
“My son’s school does not provide a locker. He has to carry his heavy textbooks,” said Shilpi Pandey, a resident of Bandra.
In 2010, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), which runs more than a 1,000 schools across India, prescribed weight limits on its students’ school bags. Schoolbags for Class 1 and Class 2 should not weigh more than 2 kg. For Class 3 and 4, the bag should weigh less than 3 kg, those studying in Class 5 to Class 8 should not carry school bags weighing more than 4 kg and Class 9 and 10 should have bags that weigh less than 5 kg.
“We conduct random checks in our school to weigh school bags. Students are told to keep their notebooks in school so that bags do not weigh that much,” said George Cherian, principal of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Powai.