The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has asked schools to eliminate school bags and homework for students of the first and second grades. Taking a cue from the Maharashtra government, which had announced last year a policy to limit the weight of school bags to 10 percent of the child's weight, CBSE too plans to make bags lighter for all.
"Heavier school bags are known to have adverse effects on the health of growing children, and if such bags are used for a prolonged period, the impact may well be irreversible. Young children whose spines are at a crucial stage of growth are the most susceptible ones to hazards such as back pain, muscle pain, shoulder pain, fatigue and in extreme cases the distortion of the spinal cord or shoulders that may most plausibly be attributed to heavy school bags," a circular released by CBSE read.
In order to do so, all CBSE schools have been instructed to abide strictly by the timetable and make students aware of the adverse effects of fatigue caused due to heavy school bags. The schools have also been instructed to redesign their timetables and curriculum so as to reduce the weight of school bags. Schools have also been instructed to make potable drinking water available to ensure students do not have to carry heavy water bottles to classes.
CBSE has instructed teachers to use loose sheets instead of workbooks, and to deploy alternative methods of teaching. Teachers have also been instructed to form pairs among students who can study from a single textbook. Parents, meanwhile, have been requested to be mindful of the health concerns heavy school bags impose, and regularly clean the bags, given that children are often in the habit of storing things in them. "The bag should be put on tightly to the child’s back, rather than hanging off her shoulders," the circular read.
Recently, 12-year-old students from Chandrapur, a small town in Maharashtra, had called a press conference and openly voiced the daily hardships they face due to the burdensome bags. Only two days after the press conference, lockers were installed in the school premises for students to keep books and stationery.