Expect random checks by Maharashtra’s education department on weight of school bags this year
Mumbai city news: The state’s school bag policy says they should not be exceed 10% of the child’s weightmumbai Updated: Jun 15, 2017 01:38 IST
From the new academic year, which begins on Thursday, the state’s school education department will conduct random monthly checks in schools to ensure students do not stoop under the weight of heavy school bags. Activists fear the weight of bags has increased at least by one kilogram this year, owing to new heavier textbooks.
A government notification issued on Wednesday evening directs education officers in every district to strictly implement the school bag policy, which states bags should not be exceed 10% of the child’s weight. After the checks, officers will have to submit status reports to the education director (primary) based in Pune, who will present the state-wide findings to the department every 15 days.
The policy was framed after Swati Patil, a city-based activist, filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court raising concerns over heavy school bags. The PIL is still being heard after the HC pulled up the government a couple of times for its failure to implement the policy.
Patil said they are now planning to mention the case to the chief justice for urgent hearing because they suspect the weight of the bags is still not under control. “Instead of bringing down the weight as suggested by the policy, the government has increased it further by introducing bigger and heavier textbooks for class 6 this year,” she said. Adding that neither the government nor schools have implemented any of the expert recommendations made in the policy.
Schools admit they have not succeeded in reducing the weight of the bags, but are quick to put the blame on the parents. “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 had started checking bags last year after the policy was introduced, but they stopped it because students did not pay heed to 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 materials.”
Some schools said the prescribed limits are 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, Oshiwara, Kandivli and Malad. The school plans to ask parents to sign undertakings that they will not send fancy bottles, heavy bags, and extra items that add to the weight of the bags.