Armed with a weighing scale, education minister Vinod Tawde visited three schools on Friday to weigh schoolbags of students. Alarmingly, the average weight of the schoolbags was found to be between four and six kg, a figure which surpasses the 1.75 kg to 3.65 kg limit set by the government in 1997 and in 2009.
A committee formed to draft solutions to reduce the burden of students will now draft a report on the permissible weight limit. Based on the report, a decision on the new schoolbag policy will be made by June, said Tawde.
Students were surprised to see Tawde enter their classrooms carrying a weighing scale. He weighed the bags of some Classes 5 and 6 students at Parle Tilak Vidyalaya’s ICSE School in Vile Parle, and found that their bags weighed between 5kg and 6kg.
The bags of students studying in the school’s Marathi medium section was found to be around 4kg. Surprisingly, the schoolbags of students of Dixit Road Primary Municipal School in Vile Parle were found to be lighter compared to the rest, as they were carrying books as per the day’s timetable.
“ICSE students were found to be carrying the heaviest schoolbags. This could be because ICSE textbooks are heavier. Besides, they have several workbooks to carry as well,” said Tawde. “We have to come up with a pattern that suits everyone.”
“My schoolbag i s heavy because I carry a tiffin, water bottle, textbooks and notebooks,” said Harshada Mandavkar, one of the students.
When Tawde asked students for suggestions to make schoolbags lighter, students came up with prompt suggestions such as assigning lockers, asking teachers to stick to the timetable and making space in school cupboards for students extra material, among others.
Tawde said that based on his studies and suggestions made by the students, he will make three recommendations to the committee set up by the state government to come up with solutions to reduce the weight of schoolbags.
“While the committee is discussing the best ways to reduce students’ burden, I decided to add my recommendations based on some practical knowledge that I gained through these visits,” said Tawde. “We will come up with a decision by June, which will be implemented in the next academic year so that there is enough time to bring about the change.”