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Pune children’s beasts of burden no more

Pune zilla parishad CEO’s new ‘one book’ scheme will reduce weight of schoolbags to 1kg

pune Updated: Feb 06, 2018 15:57 IST
Ananya Barua
Representatives from the zilla parishad distributing the book based on a monthly syllabus to students.
Representatives from the zilla parishad distributing the book based on a monthly syllabus to students.(HT PHOTO)

Coming as a huge relief to students across the district, the Pune Zilla Parishad (ZP) chief executive officer (CEO) Suraj Mandhare has introduced a novel idea for reducing the number of books by implementing a scheme under which students will have to carry only one single textbook. Under the scheme, which is currently being run on an experimental basis, students will have to carry only one all-inclusive textbook to school instead of six separate textbooks, significantly reducing the weight of their bags.

“It is indeed a sorry sight to see such young children carry such a huge burden, but we cannot really change the curriculum by complaining about it. The only way around this issue is to improvise with what we have. After some research, I realised that the root cause for the heavy bags was the large number of books that they have carry. This is because they have to carry separate textbooks for all six subjects. After some brainstorming, I found that managing the number of selected chapters to be taught in a month and condensing them into one book was a viable solution as they would then have to carry only one book. Hence, this one-month trial was launched in 26 schools and honestly, the feedback has been much more overwhelming than I expected,” said Mandhare.

As per the plan, the books were designed according to the monthly syllabus of each subject and were distributed to Class 4 students in 26 schools across 13 talukas under the zilla parishad (two schools per taluka) on January 26. Each student will be given a fresh book every month containing the chapters to be completed in that specific month. Although the one-month trial was carried out in only Zilla Parishad-run schools, Mandhare plans to expand its reach to most of the institutes in the city and the state by the next academic year. 

“Each book also contains a feedback form to be filled by parents and teachers so that we can perfect our initiative. Surprisingly, many have pointed out more advantages than the project’s disadvantages, which I had not imagined initially. While some said that the initiative solved the issue of packing bags daily, as only one book was needed for an entire month, others said new books every month reduced the tearing of books by a large margin. Also, some parents from economically backward families said that the initiative reduces the need to buy books in a bulk and the financial burden on parents is reduced to affordable instalments every month,” Mandhare added. 

Gavhane Gauri Prasad, principal of Zilla Parishad Primary School in Shankarnagar, Mundhwa, said, “Kids are not burden bearers. The practice of burdening their young shoulders with so much of weight every single day is extremely hazardous and unnecessary and its high time that such an initiative came to the forefront. As the experimental phase is on, I feel the results will be positive so that we can also apply the same in a more full-fledged manner from the next academic year.”

Vijay Nagre, a parent from Otur, Junnar taluka, said, “There were speculations that the selected chapters will limit the scope of teaching in classes, as one cant go back and forth. But, that is not happening in reality. The book contains two to three chapters for each subject based on a division-wise plan of the entire curriculum and every month, new books will be printed and distributed. This is not only economical for parents but is also an organised way to solve the issue.”

To further reduce weight of notebooks, Mandhare has planned to give one notebook with detachable papers and a punching machine to differentiate the leaves so that they can carry one notebook for all subjects for a month.