ANDHRA PRADESH

Towards reducing burden of schoolchildren

HYDERABAD, MARCH 3. There was no study done per se on the subject, but it is generally accepted that children carry at least books, lunch box and water bottle, all with a combined weight ranging from four to seven kilos to school everyday. Again there has been no official study, but doctors agree that the complaints of low back pain from little children are on the rise.

Parents and children from Class One to Five can soon heave a sigh of relief if school education departments across the country approve a new concept. In what is considered an easy way out, the Orient Longman Private Limited has come out with a set of three textbooks only, each for students from Class One to Five.

Based on the guidelines of the National and State Councils for Educational Research and Training (NCERT and SCERT), the premier book publisher has divided each class into three terms, each of them being covered by one book, of about 200 to 250 pages in Crown Quarto size. The range of books that were showcased at a press conference here on Wednesday is called `Sangam', which means integration.

"It combines the four core subjects of English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies," said Raj Mani, vice-president (Schools Division) of Orient Longman. The Sangam series was approved by the Tamil Nadu Government in November last and would be introduced in the academic year 2004-05, he said, adding that the test-marketing response was overwhelming.

"The children need not carry the whole set of books everyday. Instead, they can carry one book throughout the term and reduce the burden to a great extent," J. Krishnadev Rao, Director (Commercial), Orient Longman said, adding that it was being showcased in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Pondicherry and the initial response from the State Governments was encouraging.

Inspired by the Yashpal Committee's recommendation that burden on children be reduced, the Sangam content had been prepared by an experienced team, which included NCERT advisers.

The price range varies from Rs. 240 per set of three books for Class One, to Rs. 294 for Class Five.

The publisher expects to roll out, nation-wide, when schools open the next academic year.