- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Karnataka’s order capping weight of school bags
What to study?
- For prelims: Highlights of the order.
- For Mains: Need for and significance of the order, concerns associated with the issue.
Context: The Karnataka government has ordered all schools in the state to ensure that the weight of a child’s schoolbag does not exceed 10% of the weight of the child. The order is applicable to all schools in the State, including government, aided and unaided institutions.
Highlights of the order:
- Prescribed weight: A bag of a student in Class 1 or 2 should weigh no more than 2 kg. It can weigh anywhere between 2 and 3 kg for students from Class 3 to 5. The prescribed weight increases progressively, with students in Class 9 and 10 allowed to carry bags in the 4-5 kg range.
- Homework: Students in Classes 1 and 2 should not be given any homework. Schools must set a timetable in advance, which will limit the number of books that have to be brought to class every day. All classwork should be kept in the school itself, either in files or books.
- Awareness: Managements have been directed to create awareness about the health hazards of lugging heavy school bags.
- Other measures: The order also says that schools must provide some space in classrooms where students can store their notebooks and textbooks. Another measure to ease the daily load is to make provisions for drinking water facilities so students don’t have to carry water bottles. Schools have also been directed not to ask students to keep books of more than 100 pages.
- The third Saturday of every month should be followed as a “No School Bag Day”. On that day, teachers have to engage students without any books or supplementary materials. Suggested activities include field visits, general knowledge clubs, art classes, indoor and outdoor games, abacus, dance classes, and debates.
Karnataka’s order capping weight of school bags reopens an important debate about children’s health. The weight of a child’s school bag has been a contested issue for long, and especially so in recent months.
In October last year, the HRD Ministry directed all states and Union Territories to “formulate guidelines to regulate the teaching of subjects and weight of school bags in accordance with the Government of India instructions”.
What necessitated this?
Surveys and experts’ views have confirmed that the weight not only hurts the children’s back but causes long-term damage to their body. The burden may cause muscle strain and lead to deformation of the spine or even nervous disorders.
Sources: the hindu.