Maharashtra edu dept starts checks on weight of school bags

Teachers say checks should not be conducted during exam as students carry lighter bags

mumbai Updated: Mar 22, 2016 00:10 IST
Puja Pednekar
Puja Pednekar
Hindustan Times
Last year, a public interest litigation was filed by activist and a parent Swati Patil, seeking to implement a policy to reduce weight of school bags.(File photo)

The state school education department conducted random checks in the city schools on Monday to verify whether school bags have become lighter.

The school bag policy came into effect in June 2015. The Bombay high court has given the education department time till March 31 to submit a report on the policy’s implementation.

Experts said the checks should not be conducted during examination as students carry lighter bags during that period.

Although the government had announced surprise checks in November to ensure that the schools are following the policy, the department had not done any checks till now.

Education officers visited several schools on Monday to weigh students’ bags. Some schools were asked to do the checking themselves.

St Stanislaus School, Bandra, weighed the bags of students from Classes 5 to 8 to ensure that they were not exceeding 10% of their body weight, as suggested by the policy.

“Students weighing 37 to 40 kgs were carrying bags that weighed two to three kilograms, which is within the permissible limits,” said Anna Correa, principal of the school.

But, Correa admitted that the bags may have been lighter because of exams. “Since exams are near, students are not carrying any extra books. Moreover, we have half-day school as we are an SSC exam centre,” she added.

Teachers of a school in Andheri said students only carry a writing pad and few books during exams. “The department should have planned the checks before the exams,” said a teacher on the condition of anonymity.

St Columba School at Grant Road turned away education officials as students had a holiday. “The checks should not have been scheduled in the middle of the SSC exams. We have classes on alternate days as our school is an exam centre,” said Shubhada Kedari, principal of the school. “We have asked them to come after the exams get over.”

Kedari said the school has introduced term-wise notebooks and a locker system. “All desks have lockers. We ask them to carry only 100-page notebooks and textbooks are not needed as we have interactive boards,” said Kedari. “We have also installed water purifiers so that students do not have to carry water from home.”

What the policy says

On June 22 last year, the school education department came up with a school bag policy after consulting an expert panel on ways to reduce weight of bags.

One of the recommendations was the weight of bags should not exceed 10% of a student’s body weight.

Action taken

Schools were given time from November 4 to November 30 to implement the policy. They were asked to reduce the weight of bags to 10% of the students’ weight

Surprise checks in schools were announced after the deadline. The department was supposed to send show-cause notices to errant schools and appreciation certificates to others.

What the court said

Last year, a public interest litigation was filed by activist and a parent Swati Patil, seeking to implement a policy to reduce weight of school bags.

On March 16, the Bombay high court asked the state government to file a status report by March 31.

First Published: Mar 22, 2016 00:10 IST