‘No-bag day can help wean Covid dropouts back to school’

Medical practitioners have pointed out the ill-effects of a heavy school bag and its impact on the spine

Chandreyee Ghose Published 28.07.22, 09:57 AM

Class VII student Harshvardhan Acharya of Orchids The International School in Newtown has a gruelling schedule on most days of the week.

“My school is from 8am to 3.30pm. Again, I have tuition after 5 in the evening. There is little time for relaxation,” says the boy. His schoolbag is crammed, his homework time-consuming and nerves often taut. All that changes every Thursday


“On Thursdays, I go to school without my books and engage in my favourite activities. I practise taekwondo that day. I have also taken up gardening, something I would never have otherwise. I return on Friday completely recharged,” says Harshvardhan.

Ujaan Roy Chowdhury of Class VI, Don Bosco Park Circus, wishes he could have a day like that in his school too and so does many others whose backs ache and minds yearn for some relaxation.

Every class — from Kindergarten to Class IX — in Orchids The International School has a weekly no-bag day. The students come only with their lunches, a notebook and colour pencils on that day.

“We organise random checks to ensure that none of our students are carrying any extra load every day and especially on that day,” said principal Sharmili Shah.

Some schools in the city — such as South City International, Mahadevi Birla World Academy and a few others — have started implementing the rule for their Primary and Pre-primary sections. But most are still mulling on how to make the practice sustainable on a long-term basis, especially for the seniors.

“We hope to start a nobag day for our students till Class X soon. The planning is still on. It will be a day when students can work on their worksheets, laboratories and also enjoy a reflective session, interacting with their teachers,” said Asian International School principal Vijaylaxmi Kumar.

Indus Valley World School director Amita Prasad said she hoped to implement the no-bag rule for Classes VI to XII for a week after their half-yearly exams.

Mahadevi Birla World Academy vice-principal Nupur Ghosh claims a no-bag day requires more planning, as it involves experiential learning and lateral thinking.

“In the end, parents should not think it’s just another holiday. The benefits of field study need to be instilled in everyone. We are planning to have a no-bag day once a month for our students till Class V. It is all set to start from August,” she said.

Principal Indrani Sanyal of DPS, Mega City, said there were many days when her students were involved in fests and inter-school events. “Those days are spent outside the classroom and learning through fun.”

The ill-effects of a heavy school bag and its impact on the spine have been pointed out, time and again, by medical practitioners.

“A heavy bag can cause backache and spinal injury in the long term. Even a day’s relief in a week can help reduce the risk factor for children. But that does not mean bags can be overloaded on other days,” said orthopaedic surgeon Dr Sudipta Ghosh.

Psychologist Devleena Ghosh added that a day of activity can be a big confidence booster for children.

“There are many kids who don’t like to go to school, post-pandemic. A no-bag day can help wean them back,” she said.

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