Parents urge schools to reduce burden of school bags
Dehradun: With the start of new academic session, parents have renewed their demand for lightweight students’ bags. An association formed by the parents in Uttarakhand have urged schools to take up measures to unburden their children.
As per a survey conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry in 2016, almost 68% schoolchildren under the age of 13 face the risk of backaches and hunchbacks by carrying heavy backpacks. The survey carried out across 10 cities, including Dehradun.
A schoolbag should not weigh beyond 10% of a student’s weight as per the Children’s Schoolbag Act 2006. However, Dehradun-based school bookstores that HT spoke to said that a child carries 12 to 15 textbooks, notebooks and workbooks on an average to school. The text materials, coupled with additional items like sports/art/music kits, stationery, lunch boxes and water bottles often make for 20-30% of a child’s weight.
“We have put across the demand for lightweight bags to schools many times in the past but to no avail. We will meet the new government in this regard to request its intervention,” said Neeraj Singhal, president of the All Uttarakhand Parents’ Association. The association has over 1.24 lakh parents as its members, of that 32,000 are from Dehradun alone.
“We understand that text material is important for them (students), but schools should at least come up with measures like dividing books into smaller booklets and planning smarter timetables to reduce the overall load,” said Kusum Tiwari, the parent of a Class 8 student said.
The health experts warned of long-term back and spine trouble due to excess weight of bags. “Carrying heavy load on the back in the growing years could lead to back or shoulder aches and spinal deformity in the long run, besides affecting the growth of the musculoskeletal system. Heavy schoolbags may also lead to stress in neck muscles,” Dr Gaurav Gupta, secretary of the Dehradun Orthopedic Society, told HT.
When contacted, school education minister Arvind Pandey said that the government will look into the matter. “I’ve just taken over as the education minister…but I assure the parents that we’ll look into the problem and take up the matter with schools to ensure a way out,” Pandey told HT on Wednesday.
Last year, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had issued guidelines for all affiliated schools to ensure that school bags are of manageable weight.
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