Schools work to make students’ bags lighter

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A year after the state issued a circular asking schools to monitor and regulate the weight of students’ bags, some city institutes have chalked out detailed plans to follow the directive.

Euroschool International in Airoli has implemented a formal programme that involves random checks of schoolbags by students appointed as ‘safety marshals’. These marshals also counsel other students on ways to make the bags lighter. The school claims that the programme, along with measures such as an altered timetable, locker facilities and switch to e-learning, has been successful in reducing the load for students between six and 10 years of age by at least 1 kg.

Raymond Fernandez, head, content and learning, Euroschool, said, “Under our structured programme, we monitor the weight of schoolbags and collect the data to study the average weight a child carries over a period of time, to understand how to reduce the load.”

At St Joseph’s School, Panvel, the new time table mandates fewer textbooks and notebooks. Kalpana Diwvedi, the principal, said, “We have reduced the number of textbooks and notebooks to a maximum of four for the entire curriculum. However, parents must also be proactive and make sure their children do not carry extra weight. For example, fancy bottles and two tiffin boxes can be avoided.”

At some schools, a good cafeteria has turned out to be the solution to the multiple-tiffin problem. Deepshikha Srivastava, principal of Rajhans Vidyalaya in Andheri West, said, “We offer lunches in the cafeteria, and tell children to carry their own water bottles. In addition, we have provided a notice to students and parents as to how to maintain a healthy bag weight.” Parents, however, claim that the measures are limited to a few schools.

Arundhati Chavan, the head of the Parent Teacher Association United Forum of Maharashtra, said, “At present, less than 10 per cent of the schools have implemented the government’s recommendations. Only those with fewer students, such as IB schools, have been able to do it.”

Chavan added that parents too need to take responsibility and steer away from the mindset where carrying all books is considered the norm.