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Smriti turns eye to heavy school bags

The increasing weight of school bags will be discussed at a meeting next week of the Central Advisory Board of Education, the apex advisory panel on education headed by Union HRD minister Smriti Irani.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 12.08.15
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New Delhi, Aug. 11: The increasing weight of school bags will be discussed at a meeting next week of the Central Advisory Board of Education, the apex advisory panel on education headed by Union HRD minister Smriti Irani.

The meeting will also review automatic promotion of students till Class VIII, the impact of the Class X CBSE board examination being made optional, and a proposal to extend the Right To Education (RTE) Act to secondary and pre-primary levels.

Ministry officials said the government has been receiving complaints about heavy school bags. In multi-storeyed school buildings, junior students often have to climb the stairs carrying their heavy bags, causing stress and strain on the spine.

A circular issued by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) in 2009 said children should not carry more than a fifth of their body weight on their backs to keep the spine and skeletal structure strong and upright.

According to the KVS policy, the maximum weight of a school bag for Classes I and II should be 2kg; for Classes III and IV, 3kg; for Classes V to VII, 4kg; and for Classes VIII to XII, 6kg.

Jawahar Kaul, a member of the CABE and vice-chancellor of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttarakhand, said students are under pressure to score more marks in examinations. The expectations make them follow various books, adding to the weight of bags.

Lawyer Ashok Agrawal, who has filed several court cases on violation of RTE norms, said many CBSE schools ask students to buy books of private publishers in addition to the NCERT books prescribed by the board.

"The weight of the bag has to increase because of pressure from teachers to purchase private publishers' books," he said.

Kaul, who supports automatic promotion till Class VIII, said children should get a stress-free environment to study. "The moment you... expect the kids to perform better in examination, it kills the drive for innovation and dynamism," he said.

Several state governments have opposed the continuous and comprehensive evaluation policy, which requires schools to constantly assess a child's scholastic and co-scholastic abilities, and promote them automatically till Class VIII.

An expert committee set up by CABE in 2012 to study the policy's implementation has submitted its report.

The panel, headed by former Haryana education minister Geeta Bhukkal, has suggested that there should be screening test in Class III but no detention; another test in Class V, when schools may or may not detain the children; and a screening test in Class VIII that must be linked to promotion. The report will now be discussed.