Worried about the ever-increasing weight of your child’s school bag? It's time to cheer up. For, things are set to change as per the latest circular from the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
By Leena Ghosh
The school bag is the last thing all school-going children pick up before leaving their homes and it is also the first thing they put down as soon as they get back home.
The sight of children carrying the heavy burden on their little shoulders is reflective of what’s not right with our education system. Research has shown that carrying heavy school bags can subject a child to immense physical strain. In fact, carrying such a heavy load can cause serious back injuries as well.
Keeping all these in mind, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the Department of School Education and Literacy have issued a letter to the governments in all states and union territories.
The letter dated 20 November 2018 instructs the authorities concerned to “formulate guidelines to regulate the teaching of subjects and weight of school bag in accordance with the Government of India instructions.”
1. Students of classes 1 and 2 must not be given homework by their teachers.
2. Schools should not prescribe subjects other than language and mathematics for classes 1 and 2, and language, environmental science and mathematics for classes 3 to 5 based on NCERT guidelines.
3. Schools should not ask students to bring any additional books or materials, other than what’s necessary.
4. Schools should follow guidelines regarding the weight of the school bag corresponding to the class the students belong to. These are as follows:
Further instructions from the MHRD about the implementation of these guidelines are awaited. However, this letter has sent a strong message to schools to ensure that the learning process remains easy and fun instead of becoming a bothersome chore.
Mrinalini B, Bengaluru, parent of a 7-year-old (class 1), feels that this is a welcome move. “I feel that all schools should have lockers, where the students can keep their books and notes. They should carry home only what is required and teachers should discuss this with the students. However, I feel that some homework should be given as it helps keep the children engaged. But, of course, homework shouldn't make the child feel pressurised.”
We spoke with Seetha Kiran, Regional Director, D. A. V. Institutions, to find out her views on this latest development.
What are your thoughts on the move by the MHRD to limit the weight of school bags?
This is a great victory for those educators who have been trying for decades to limit the weight of school bags. Finally, their efforts have come to fruition. Many schools, particularly private institutions, unnecessarily dump books on children. This has turned into a business for schools.
Children are usually very possessive about their books. Whether it is needed or not, they just want to carry their books to school. In this regard, both parents and teachers have a role to play. Teachers need to strictly stick to the timetable and parents need to ensure that children only carry books as per the timetable. Another option is to have block periods, which means that only two subjects should be taught every day and children would only carry those books. Also, buying light-weight school bags can help. Additionally, parents should ensure that their children do not carry unnecessary objects like toys in their bag.
The school should also try to provide stationery to students. Doing this can ensure that students need not carry pencil boxes to the school.
Both parents and teachers need to work together to ease this burden of students.
Students of Class I and II should not be given homework. How do you feel about this?
This is another welcome move by the Board. If students of these classes aren’t given homework, then they would not carry their books home. It will also create an opportunity for parents and children to spend some quality time together. Parents can connect with their children by asking them what they were taught in school. Doing this will help the children reflect on what they learned during the day and process it better. This is the way learning should be.
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