In educational circles, the weight of school bags has been a subject of debate for several years. Child counsellors, psychologists and educationists have often highlighted that heavy bags have negative consequences for the health and well-being of students. The NCERT (National Council of Education Research and Training), through several surveys and studies, found that carrying heavy bags was bad for students’ health and resulted in stunted growth, especially for those in pre-primary and primary classes.

Taking cognisance of this, the Union ministry of education, on December 8, announced the ‘Policy on School Bag 2020’ in line with the New Education Policy 2020. According to the policy, the total weight of a student’s school bag (for students from class 1 to 10) should not be more than 10 per cent of their body weight. The ministry has also recommended that schools monitor the weight of the bags on regular basis.

The Right Step

Welcoming the move, Alka Kapur, principal, Modern Public School, Delhi, says, “It’s a good decision. This is precisely why we have time tables, to ensure that students don’t carry any unnecessary [textbooks or notebooks on a given day].” Students from different age groups have different levels of physical strength, and the young can’t carry the same load as the older ones.

The sight of a young child panting up the stairs, weighed down by a hefty backpack, is a usual sight in schools. The adverse effect of those backpacks on children’s spinal posture, foot shape and walking pattern has time and again been noted. Pallavi Rao Chaturvedi, vice-president of the Early Childhood Association, says, “Children usually compensate for the load on the back by leaning forward, straining the muscles of the neck, back and shoulders.” Situations such as these were often disregarded earlier keeping in mind the amount of books and other necessities the children carried in their bags. “However, the Policy on School Bag 2020 has suggested to unburden these children through various measures. These are definitely a step forward to mould the children of our nation into skilled citizens rather than stressed citizens of the future India,” adds Chaturvedi.
December 17, 2021 — Dr. Pallavi Rao Chaturvedi

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