Weight of school bags and homework

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“The biggest guru-mantra is: never share your secrets with anybody. It will destroy you.”

– Chanakya


No homework for students of classes I and II and prescribed weight limit of school bags for each class are part of the fresh directives issued by the HRD ministry to states and union territories across the country. In May, the Madras High Court had asked the Centre to instruct state governments to regulate the weight of school bags and do away with homework for Classes 1 and 2. A petitioner had moved the court saying that schools were assigning homework to students of Classes 1 and 2 even though it was prohibited. A group of Spanish researchers had recently suggested trolleys as a substitute for backpacks, as the latter are now incapable of holding many items required by a child on daily basis. Similar observations were made by two Indian high court judges about a few years back. Students normally carry a minimum of 16 books for 8 subjects daily and sometimes their number increases to 18 or 20, depending upon the subjects for which the classes would be held for the day. So, school bags weigh between 5 and 7 kg and its exhausting to carry them to the classroom located on the third floor. Now, according to the Centre’s directive the weight of school bags for students of classes I and II should not exceed 1.5 kg, while the school bag of students of class III to V should weigh between 2 kg to 3 kg.

All attempts should be made by teachers, education Department and schools to reduce the weight of the school bags of children. Almost all the schools follow time table system, therefore, children out of fear, carry all the books to schools thus burdening their bags resulting in back pains at a young age. Secondly children at the primary levels should not be burdened with all the subjects. The fresh directive of the Centre will bring relief to school-going children.  While the government’s move to make school education more children-friendly is a laudable step, there remain many other areas where the government needs to make informed choices in favour of children. The homework given by schools is one of those areas that especially need to be looked into. An overload of homework can hamper holistic development. With such a hectic schedule the child will not be able to pursue other activities like sports or music.  After spending minimum two hours in communing to home (given the traffic scenario in the country) from school, the load of homework proves to be too much for the young students to appreciate the value of the exercise that homework intends to be.

Primary education rests on the idea of helping students hone their soft skills by individual attention. The reality, however, is that most schools admit more students than the expected class capacity. Consequently, the class is in a perpetual state of chaos. Due to this the teachers too are not able to pay adequate attention to all students and hurriedly finish the syllabus. The government needs to look into the mushrooming of private schools sans quality in the country particularly the Northeastern states.

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