As per Collins English Dictionary, “A school bag is a bag that children use to carry books and other things to and from school”.
Cambridge English Dictionary defines school bag as “A bag that is used for carrying books, etc., for school, usually with a long strap and carried over the shoulder, or carried on the back like a backpack.”
Various surveys and classroom transaction-process studies conducted from time to time have revealed that the schoolbag is heavy and textbook and teacher talk dominate in the classroom. To address this problem, massive advocacy and orientation is required, at all the levels for educational administrators, school heads, teacher educators, teachers, parents and students.
Many states and UTs and other agencies have taken some initiatives to address issues related to heavy school bags, such as, creating semester system in schools
(Tamil Nadu) and locker systems for keeping textbooks in school (a few Kendriya Vidyalayas), some CBSE schools, etc. The state of Telangana and Maharashtra
had also circulated guidelines on school bags. Moreover, a Private Member Bill entitled Children’s School Bag (Limitations on Weight) Bill 2006, was also in place for discussion. Further, Honourable High Court of Jurisdiction at Madras in its judgment dated 29.05.2018 in M. Purushothaman Vs. Union of India (WP No. 25680 of 2018) has directed the Union of India to formulate a policy on children’s school bag on the lines of Children’s School Bag (Limitation on Weight) Bill, 2006.
Therefore, based on the survey data and also intense discussions, the Expert Group has made following recommendations for the reduction of weight of school
bag including recommend Guidelines for Implementation.
I. For schools (Principals and Teachers)
1.1 Body weight and weight of school bag
The suggestive table for class-wise range for ratio for school bag as 10 per cent of the body weight is given below.
|S.No.||Class||Average Body Weight Range (in Kg)||Bag Weight Range (Recommended)|
Since this suggestion is based on pattern seen under various studies, it is suggested that every school need to take initiative to develop a table of this kind discussing with school staff, parents, physicians from nearby area, counselor, and psychologists and can come out with a suggestive table keeping in view weight, gender and disabilities of children (if any). Every school should display this chart prominently on the notice board of the school and in each classroom.
1.2 Regular Checking of Weight of School Bag in the School
Since schooling is a continuous process and every year new children are joining school, the checking of weight of school bag needs to be made a regular practice in school by keeping a weighing machine functional in the school premises. From Classes I to V, teachers must take the responsibility of checking the weight of school bag of children randomly every three months on a day selected for the whole class. Information about the heavy bag needs to be communicated to the parents of the child and the bag needs to be monitored for a week or two for ensuring that the child starts carrying a lighter bag. This needs to be done in a very polite way and in the form of counseling rather than in the form of hard instructions. From Class IV onward teachers need to use this activity for clarifying the relative concepts in Mathematics and age-body weight relation in Science, etc. This activity may be used as a pedagogic intervention in the classroom for understanding concepts in Environmental Studies, Science, Mathematics, Languages and Social Sciences.
1.3 Time Table
1.4 Note Books
1.5 Sharing of Textbooks
Sharing of textbooks among peers may be promoted so that children sitting together need not carry all the textbooks every day.
1.6 Going Beyond Textbooks
There are lessons when the textbook is not used at all. With adequate planning, students should be given an advance notice by the subject teacher so that they can leave textbooks at home when these are not going to be used. Teachers should engage students in activity based teaching-learning process wherein students can go beyond textbooks. Teachers need to be guided by the Heads of School to reduce the use of text books by students during class hours. Judicious use of handouts especially when the main textbook has a reference role is helpful For example, in case of Science and Mathematics, teachers can prepare classroom for conducting activities so that students need not bring textbooks for these subject areas.
1.7 School Diary
School Diary or Almanac also adds to the weight of school bag. This needs to be avoided or made thinner as it remains mostly empty. If teacher wants to inform parents about the child, they may either use mobile, email or back pages of the child’s notebook or any digital platform whatever is feasible.
2. Involving Parents on the Issue of School Bag
3. For Department and Directorate of School Education in States and UTs
The following table clearly shows the total weight of recommended textbooks developed by the NCERT per class for all the major subjects.
Weight of Textbooks Developed by the NCERT (class wise)
|S.No.||Class||No.of NCERT Textbooks||Total Weight (in gms.)||No. of Subjects (Version-Englishor Hindi)|
|1.||Pre-primary||No text book is Recommended|
It is clear from the table that in primary classes, total weight of all the textbooks does not exceed 2 Kg. If all the subjects are not being taught on a day or if sharing of books are allowed among peers, then this weight will be reduced to 1 Kg. This also applies for upper primary and secondary classes.
The Department of School Education at the State/ UT level needs to frame similar kind of table to be sent to schools under their jurisdiction with an instruction to formulate a table of weight of all the textbooks recommended to be used in the school so that everyone in the school to have clarity about the weight of each individual textbook, which will help in the selection of textbooks for each day.
4. Publishers (including NCERT)
Once it is established that heavy textbooks rank first in school bag weight, there is a need for textbook developer and publishers to look into this issue further, NCERT need to come out with Textbook Development Policy which clearly enumerate minimum and maximum range of pages and weight of the textbook for each class across subject areas also keeping in view the environmental concerns. Publishers need to also print weight of the each textbook (if feasible) on the inner cover page or on the back cover page of the textbook so that students and parents will be aware of the weight of the school bag being carried on day-to-day basis.
5. Educational Institutions at the State, District and Block level
For School Management (in case of Private Schools) and For Department of Education (in case of Government or Government-aided Schools)
Once it is established that heavy textbooks rank first in school bag weight the most effective approach would be the formulation of, and adherence to the NCF norms prescribed for subjects of study at different levels. For achieving this ideal, school management and administration need to issue the advisory for all the schools including the following—
A. For School Management (in case of Private Schools) and For Department of Education (in case of Government/Government-aided Schools)
On the issue of Homework, school management/ administration need to issue an advisory for all the schools focusing on the following points:
B. For Schools (Principals and Teachers)
Homework is also an issue, which makes both students and parents stressed because as a general practice it needs to be completed by night and reported in the
school next morning. This practice snatches play time of child, parents’ quality time with child, activities leading to socialisation with the family. Moreover, it is often observed, mechanical kinds of homework is being given to students. For example, copy answers from books, writing of an essay, writing of some project work taking help from the internet, etc.
Children should be given an opportunity for creative work at home in which they can take interest along with their family members. For example, creating a pattern of consumption of rice and sugar in the whole month, details of consumption of electricity in the last six months, recording an anecdote spoken by grandpa from his school days or days he worked as, farmer, etc.
Children need to be encouraged to read books at home. There is a need to discuss some of these books in the school. This will improve reading habits of children. Book clubs may be opened in the school so that children can get variety of books free of cost in the school itself.
To access the complete policy, click here.