Srinagar: The School Education Department has woken up to the issue of heavy weight of school bags carried by the school going children every day. The Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK) has issued fresh circular instructions to the schools putting a cap on the weight of school bags.
The move comes almost four years after the Ministry of Education (MoE) Government of India issued strict directions to all the States and UTs to regulate the time table in educational schools along with the weight of school bags.
Following this, the J&K School Education Department (SED) in 2020 made certain amendments in the J&K school education Act 2002 in order to ease the burden of heavy bags carried by school going children in the union territory.
The department added Rule 8A in the school education Act under which the heads of the schools were entrusted to ensure that no homework is assigned to students up to class 2nd primary in all government as well as private schools affiliated with JK Board of School Education (BOSE).
However, the directions witnessed a poor implementation on ground owing to the prolonged closure of the educational institutions due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the DSEK in a fresh circular has sought strict adherence to the School Bag Policy 2020 noting that heavy school bags were a serious threat to the health and well-being of students.
"The heavy school bag has severe and adverse physical effects on growing children which can cause damage to their vertebral column and knees," the DSEK circular reads.
The department has instructed all heads of all government and private schools of Kashmir division to strictly adhere to the revised guidelines of School Bag Policy, 2020 released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to reduce the weight of school bags for students from primary to higher secondary level.
"School teachers should inform the students in advance about the books and notebooks to be brought to school on a particular day and frequently check their bags to ensure that they are not carrying unnecessary material," the circular reads.
Referring to the revised school bag policy of NCERT, the DSEK in a circular has said that there should be no school bags for kindergarten students while the weight of the school bags for class 1st and 2nd primary should be 1.6 to 2.2 kg while 1.7 to 2.5 kgs for Classes 3rd to 5th primary.
As per the revised guidelines, the weight of a school bag for class 6th and 7th students should be 2 to 3 kg and 2.5 to 4kg for Class 8th students.
"The weight of the school bag for class 9th and 10th should be 2.5kg to 4.5kgs and for class 11th and 12th it should be 3.5kgs to 5kgs," the circular reads.
The teachers have been put on instructions to take the responsibility of checking the weight of school bags of the students. "Any information about heavy bags should be communicated to the parents," it reads.
The concerned school management of the school has been entrusted to provide quality potable water in sufficient quantity to all the students in the school so that they do not need to carry water bottles from their homes.
"The files and thin or light exercise books should be preferred to thick and heavy ones. The instructions shall be strictly adhered to," the DSEK circular reads.
Notably, the issue of heavy weight of school Bags has been a persistent problem with students carrying this weight on their tender shoulders. Over the years, the department failed to resolve the issue despite having Children's School Bag Act 2006 in place.
"But the poor implementation of the Act has put the students in trouble. Hope, this time the schools will implement the governments directions in letter and spirit," said Muhammad Arshad, a parent from Raj Bagh Srinagar. As per the Act, a school bag should not weigh more than 10 percent of a child's total bodyweight.