News and views about the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 and other legislation, schemes and policies impacting the Right to Education of India's Children.
RTE Act provision Section 29 of the Right of
Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2010, provides that
the weight of schoolbags must be reduced to ease the burden on
students. For most students, the biggest ache is the bag
ache—which is also a reason behind the infamous backache and dropping
shoulder frames. Two years after the RTE Act—that wanted, among other
reforms, to lighten schoolbags—came into force, little has changed and
students still endure the backbreaking task of carrying heavy
schoolbags, according to a recent study. Inspired by the same research, a
Bangalore school has embarked on a novel initiative to save schoolkids
from developing a slouch— and it’s just the beginning, reports Vidya Iyengar. As the law sees it... As per the Children’s Schoolbag Act of 2006: A schoolbag should not weigh over 10% of the body weight. Nursery and kindergarten students should carry no schoolbag. Schools should issue guidelines on bags. The state government should provide appropriate lockers at schools. Schools
violating such provisions are liable to face a penalty of up to Rs3
lakh; a subsequent violation may lead to de-recognition. ...But the reality is Children carry over 35% of their weight on their backs. Even nursery and kindergarten students are not spared. Schools don’t have appropriate lockers. They have no guidelines on bags. No school violating the provisions has faced the music.
A Class 10 student, Aishwarya Chitagudigi was a regular at school, and as a result, used to suffer regular backaches, too.
thought the culprit was her loaded schoolbag, and she was right—because
after her school declared Wednesdays as ‘No Bag Day’, her back problem
That’s why Chitagudigi loves Wednesdays. So
do the other students of Little Flower Public School in Banashankari
that has introduced this novel initiative.
Realising that heavy
schoolbags are breaking their backs, the school decided to act. Once a
week, the students are asked to leave their bags home and come to the
school empty-handed—just carrying the lunch pack. Students of all
classes are encouraged to come to the school without their bags every
Wednesday. And, it is a huge hit among the students. Principal of the
school, B Gayethri Devi, said they decided to rid the students of their
bags after they came across a survey, which highlighted that students
were developing back-related problems because of heavy schoolbags.
however, said the no-bag day does not mean no-studies day: the school
stores some textbooks and notebooks to ensure that teaching goes
Besides, activity-based learning takes place on
Wednesdays, such as role play and a few other things that aim at
developing the students’ oratory skills.
The students have lapped
up the school’s initiative. A student, Sushma DM, said the no-bag day
has saved her back. She, too, like Chitagudigi used to suffer pain. Her
classmate Sukesh Narayan Kashyap was just as upbeat. He said this
initiative would ensure that students don’t have stooping back.
X students said initially they were sceptical about how Wednesdays at
school would turn out without their bags, but the result is 'just
Devi said it is not just on Wednesdays that the
school expresses its concern towards the students’ heavy bag. She said
the school had issued a circular to parents, requesting them to ensure
that the weight of their children’s bag is not more than 10% of their
body weight, on any day. She said the school ensures that the circular
is followed in letter and spirit. She said every day, during morning
assembly, lower class students are asked to lift their bag with little
finger; higher class students should be able to lift theirs with ring
finger and little finger. The survey It took a
research survey to prove what we’ve known for long: that our children’s
stoops have more to do with heavy schoolbag than a lack of concern for
a good posture. Mumbai has the second highest number of cases — piped
by Delhi — of children complaining of backaches due to heavy schoolbags.
to a survey conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and
Industry of India (Assocham) under its Social Development Foundation,
58% school-going children under the age of 10 years across the country
are suffering from mild back pain, which can develop into chronic pain,
and later, into hunchback. It also stated that over 79% of Mumbai’s
children in the age group of 5-12 carry more than 35% of their weight on
their backs. The Children’s Schoolbag Act, 2006, had provisioned that
students shouldn’t be allowed to carry more than 10% of their body
weight on their backs. This 'excess load' has raised the risk of an
early onset of back pain and stress.
Also, around 1,500 students
below the age of 12 could not sit without a slouch and suffered from
orthopaedic problems. A total of 40% of children surveyed is physically
“Excessive and uneven loads have been linked to an
increased risk of back trouble and deformation of the spine. Stress from
such excess weights may affect the growth of the musculoskeletal
system. If children start getting back pains at such a young age, then
there is the possibility that they will have it for the next 70-80
years,” explained Dr BK Rao, chairman of Assocham’s health committee.
More girls than boys bear the brunt of a heavy schoolbag, with complications manifesting themselves in back pains with age.
students surveyed, those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50%
higher risk of getting a back pain than those with the lightest, said D S
Rawat, secretary general of ASSOCHAM.
A majority of the parents
surveyed complained that on an average, their children carry 21 books
for a day’s seven to eight periods.
Over 78% of them said drawing
classes no longer offer respite, as students are required to get not
just plain sheets of paper for freehand drawing, but also a textbook
with half-drawn images and the complete colour kit. Add to the load
skates, taekwondo equipment, a swim bag and a cricket kit every
alternate day, and it’s not tough to understand that your child’s
frequent complaints of back pain aren’t an excuse to miss school.
86% of the students said they carry their bags all through the day
because either there are no lockers or they are not easily accessible.
Rao suggested that a well-designed backpack and that children should
exercise regularly to improve their muscle tone.
initiative is just a new beginning and a novel idea that other schools,
too, can take a cue from and move toward abolishing schoolbags. Given
the technological developments and introduction of user-friendly tablets
and e-readers, bag-free days are not so far.