Heavy Schoolbags: Discussion in Parliament on reducing the Load

By: Admin 24 July, 2017

 Novelist R.K. Narayan had raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha in the late 1980s.

Over the next 30 years, the matter was studied by a committee under Professor Yashpal in 1993 and several instructions were issued by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan.

“We can advise schools but we cannot enforce any ideas on private schools, we are not government,” Chaturvedi said. He mentioned that many schools are still conducting ‘Monday test’ that CBSE has advised them to stop. Earlier, addressing the MUN participants and others he compared the education system today with the ancient one and said, “Knowledge meant liberation ideally, but now it is open to commercialisation as it is used to a route to livelihood.”
 

Highlights
  • The debate over the weight of schoolbags has been going on for more than three decades.

  • This issue was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha in the 1980s by Novelist R.K. Narayan, who had said an average child carried bags strapped to his back like a "pack-mule".

  • Human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar had on Thursday reeled off several suggestions being considered.

  • In Tamil Nadu, trimester system has been introduced because of that the size of books has come down as the content is tailored to the reduced duration of each session.

  • In Maharashtra, digital programmes have been started like distribution of tablets with study materials stored in them.

  • Former CBSE chairman Ashok Ganguly said the problem of load was mainly in private schools, which he felt indulged in unhealthy competition.

  • The CBSE has directed schools affiliated to it to ensure that students do not carry school bags till Class II.

 

The weight of schoolbags made a comeback again in Parliament this week when Congress MP Ambika Soni wanted to know what steps the government was contemplating to reduce their load.

 

Human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar had on Thursday reeled off several suggestions being considered.

 

"This and many other suggestions are under the consideration of the government. Tamil Nadu, which has already introduced a trimester system in all schools for Classes I to VIII, will reduce the load of books," he had said.

 

Under the trimester system, the size of books has come down as the content is tailored to the reduced duration of each session.

 



 

 

Javadekar cited the example of several states, including Maharashtra, that have started digital programmes like distribution of tablets with study materials stored in them. The Centre will emulate this in 25 Kendriya Vidyalayas, he said.

 

In his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha in 1989, Narayan had urged the government to abolish school bags.

 

"More children on account of this daily burden develop a stoop and hang their arms forward like a chimpanzee while walking.... It is a cruel harsh life imposed on her and I present her case before this House and the Honourable members to think over and devise a remedy by changing the whole educational system and outlook so that childhood has a chance to bloom," the author had said.

 

Narayan had said an average child carried bags strapped to his back like a "pack-mule".

 

"The hardship starts right at home when straight from bed the child is pulled out and got ready for school even before his faculties are awake. He or she is groomed and stuffed into a uniform and packed off with a loaded bag on her back," Narayan had said.

 

Former CBSE chairman Ashok Ganguly said the problem of load was mainly in private schools, which he felt indulged in unhealthy competition. These schools prescribe several subjects at the primary level that are not meant for children, Ganguly said.

"Private schools talk about maximised level of learning. They prescribe various subjects such as social science, science and multiple languages for primary school students even though they are not required," Ganguly said.

 

The CBSE has directed schools affiliated to it to ensure that students do not carry school bags till Class II.

Lawyer Ashok Agrawal, the president of the All India Parent-Teachers' Association, said the situation largely remained the same from the time Narayan had raised the matter.


"Even now children carry as much load. The child should be at the centre of the education system. But the parents, schools and the governments do not bother about that," Agrawal said.

In 2009, the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangthan issued guidelines under which a child should not be made to carry more than one-fifth of his bodyweight on his back.
 

This news has been taken from The Telegraph website. Read the original here.