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#mondaymusings: New initiative at PCMC schools is a delight

We wish PCMC’s education department the very best in ensuring that the ‘No school-bag day’ is a resounding success

pune Updated: Aug 06, 2018 13:59 IST
Abhay Vaidya
Abhay Vaidya
Hindustan Times, Pune
School bags,no schoolbag day,PCMC
No schoolbag day at a PCMC school in Pimple Gurav on Saturday, August 4.(HT Photo)

There is absolutely no reason why school children should bear the burden of heavy bags on their tender shoulders. This matter has come up repeatedly over previous decades and some schools have introduced various mechanisms to reduce the weight of school bags. One school, for example, allows children to deposit their books in their classroom cupboards and carry home only those that are required. This system has worked to some extent, but is still not satisfactory as the weight of school bags in this particular school is also on the higher side.

It was therefore delightful when the Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporation’s education department announced that on two Saturdays a month, as many as 39,000 primary school children would enjoy a ‘No school-bag day’.

We looked at the initiative closely and indeed, on August 4, the first Saturday when this was introduced, there were many happy faces in PCMC schools. Children and parents were delighted alike and the school authorities reported a distinct rise in attendance.

Children spoke of how happy they were, not just with the absence of school bags, but also with the absence of punishment at school for not being good at studies. The little minds sparkling with imagination and creativity were engaged in a number of educational and extra-curricular activities such as demonstration at an automatic teller machine (ATM) machine, experiments around scientific concepts; book reading and story telling sessions; the art of making colourful rangolis, and Origami, among other crafts work. Is all of this not a valuable part of education and childhood experiences, which alas, is losing out to the demands of better marks and ‘A’ grades from parents and teachers?

The poorest of children from our cities go to municipal schools. They are already burdened by the fact that they are underprivileged; their parents are often uneducated or poorly educated, and, their homes are often broken due to alcoholism and domestic violence. They have seen more suffering and hardship than say, children in middle and upper middle class homes where they are pampered by their doting parents and grandparents. Added to this, the educational standards in municipal schools are pitiable and the only consolation is that we at least have functional schools for the urban poor.

It is therefore all the more praiseworthy that PCMC’s education department thought of introducing a novel initiative for primary school children, lighten their burden and drudgery and make education and school life more interesting than before. To some extent, it is comparable in its novelty to the revolutionary midday meal scheme introduced across government schools in the country, where the poorer children attend school just because they get a meal in their otherwise stark existence, characterised by starvation and malnutrition.

We wish PCMC’s school education department the very best in ensuring that their latest initiative is a resounding success. When that happens, it would not be too much to expect other schools to introduce a ‘No school-bag day’ for their primary students as well. Saturdays are anyway lean days in most schools; often half-days, and to do away with the school bag on two Saturdays a month is not a lot to expect from our schools in these stressful times.

First Published: Aug 06, 2018 13:58 IST