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Heavier School bags are known to have adverse effects on health of growing children and if such bags are used for a prolonged period, the impact may well be irreversible. Young children whose spine is 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 spinal cord or shoulders that may most plausibly be attributed to heavy School bag.
In this context, schools can play a significant role by sensitising students, parents and teachers. Some of the feasible measures schools, teachers and parents may take in this reference are as hereunder:
1. Suggestions for Schools
- Schools may exhort students to abide strictly by the timetable and relate the adverse effects of fatigue caused due to heavy bags on their day to day performance in class. This may either be done by integrating this knowledge across scholastic or coscholastic areas or by sharing it during school assemblies. The theme such as Adverse Effects of Heavy School Bags may be included in various activities and functions conducted in school.
- Students should be encouraged to repack their bags on daily basis and to avoid carrying unnecessary articles, textbooks, workbooks that are not needed.
- iii. Schools may check school bags randomly to ensure the proper weight of school bags. This will have deterrent effect for future.
- Schools may ensure the adequate supply of potable and safe drinking water for everybody and counsel students not to bring the heavy water bottle to school. This may be possible if all the teachers including principal consume the same water that is taken by their students. Regular quality checks of water may also be ensured.
- Schools should design weekly timetable in such a way that minimum number of textbooks and workbooks are required each day. It should be evenly spread over to the entire week. Schools may take extra care to preclude the possibility of carrying large number of books/workbooks, atlas, drawing board etc. or other article by students.
- Students need not carry extra pair of sportswear throughout the day rather they may be allowed to wear it for the entire day.
- Timetable could also have separate provision for students to complete their assignments/projects during the school hours under direct supervision of teachers.
- It is reiterated once again that all the tasks related to projects and activities can be done as group activities during the school hours. It should not be prescribed as home work as it leads to getting the school bag bigger.
- Textbooks for classes I-VIII, apart from their academic worth, should be light weighted. Schools should not prescribe too many additional and supplementary textbooks which are at times voluminous, costly and designed in a pedagogically unsound manner. Kindly see the guidelines issued by CBSE in this regard. Textbooks and workbooks may not be hard bound.
- There should not be any homework assigned to students of classes I-II and they need not bring their school bag.
2. Suggestions for teachers
- Teachers may also be counselled by the principals to provide unambiguous instructions for bringing textbooks beforehand and not to penalise students in any way for not bringing textbooks/workbooks. The fear of such measures may compel many students to bring most of the books/workbooks making their bags heavy.
- Teachers may be encouraged to use alternative methods of teaching like the ones based on ICT to alleviate the dependence on textbooks.
- Teachers may be asked to use loose sheets for the workbooks as it reduces the weight of school bag and facilitate the checking by teachers as well. Teachers would also require to carry less test copies.
- Teachers may make pairs of children and these pairs may be allowed to share textbooks. One of the students in a pair may be asked to bring half of the textbooks required for the day and the remaining textbooks will be brought by the other student.
3. Suggestion for parents
- During PTM parents may be advised to be mindful of the health concerns of their wards and purchase lighter school backpack with two taut stripes.
- For primary classes, parents may be told to remind and supervise children in repacking their bags everyday as per the timetable and ensure that their wards do not carry unnecessary items such as story books, playthings etc. to school.
- Children are often in the habit of storing things in their school bags, therefore regular cleaning of the School bag is essential. iv. The School bag should be put on tightly to the child’s back, rather than hanging off her shoulders.
In addition to above, schools may take any other possible measure leading to reduction of the weight of school bag as they deem fit. It is expected that all the schools affiliated to CBSE will take necessary measures to keep the weight of school bag under control.