Across the city, teachers and principals are devising ways to ensure that they adhere to the limits set by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education on the weight of bags that students carry to school. Many schools have started asking parents to buy lightweight bags for their children. Some are going a step further by providing ‘lighter’ school bags, for which parents have to pay an additional amount.
“We can collect a bag when we go to buy the prescribed textbooks,” said a parent of a private school in the city.
As per the order issued by the department earlier this month, the bag of a student of Class 1 or 2 should weigh no more than 2 kg. It can weigh anywhere between 2 and 3 kg for students from Class 3 to 5. The prescribed weight increases progressively, with students in Class 9 and 10 allowed to carry bags in the range of 4-5 kg.
The order also mandates that students in Classes 1 and 2 should not be given any homework and that every third Saturday of the month be observed as ‘no bag day’.
Managements hope that a no-frills bag will help ease the load on children. P.M. Sathyanarayana, secretary, Presidency International English Primary School, said that they had directed parents not to buy ‘fancy’ bags that tend to be heavier. “We have instructed them to purchase light bags before commencement of the academic year. We have also decided to keep textbooks in the school and allow students to carry them back home when they are given homework or while preparing for tests," he said.
Some schools are asking parents to make copies of the textbooks so that one set can be kept at home, and another in class.
Renukesh R., a management member at NVN Vidyamandir on Bannerghatta Road, said they have recommended bags that have a single pouch without multiple pockets. “We also plan to urge parents who can afford it to buy two sets of textbooks. We will be holding a meeting and take into consideration parents’ suggestions once the school reopens,” he said.
A.C.A. Ramesh, Principal, Suma Public School, said they are urging students to bring small cloth bags to schools, and had tweaked the timetable to help reduce the daily load. “The implementation of this depends entirely on the parents. We have to sensitise the parents as many of them have demanded homework,” said Ramesh.
D. Shashi Kumar, general secretary, Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, said that though schools are trying to adhere to the rules, the weight limit itself is unscientific. “For a class I child, it states that the bag should not weigh more than 2 kg. The weight of the bag itself will be around 700 grams. The books and stationary will weigh another 1.5 kg. There is no space for a lunch box and water bottle,” he said.
Parents against reference books
While managements are brainstorming on ways to reduce the weight of bags, parents are urging schools to stop prescribing reference books and textbooks apart from those listed by their respective education boards.
Saraswathi S., a parent whose child studies in a State syllabus school on Magadi Road, said, “In addition to buying textbooks, the school has arranged for vendors from whom they have to buy reference books. My daughter is in class IV. Why is there a need to buy reference books?”
However, many parents felt that this problem of prescribing reference books is more prominent in schools affiliated to the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations and the Central Board of Secondary Education.
“We can prescribe fee structure, safety and security measures for schools affiliated to these boards. But we cannot prescribe textbooks. It is done by the respective boards,” an official in the education department said.