Finally, students can hope to have some load taken off their backs. In a move could well set a trend, the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) has come up with a graded formula that prescribes weight limits on schoolbags of its students.
As per the new `loadshedding' policy laid down for the 981 Kendriya Vidyalayas across India, schoolbags for classes I and II should not weigh more than 2kg. For classes III and IV, the bag weight should be less than 3kg, and those studying in classes V to VIII shouldn't carry bags that are more than 4kg. The upper limit for senior classes — IX to XII — has been set at 6kg. More than a million children study in Kendriya Vidyalayas.
The formula was stated in a circular from the KVS headquarters to the principals. It called for a phased implementation of the guidelines, starting with the primary classes.
KVS officials said the weight limits were an interim measure — the goal was to eventually move to a system where no child carried a bag load of more than 1kg. ``It is a pure violation of a child's right to place a burden on his back disproportionate to his age and health. The school system can be charged with cruelty to the child,'' the circular stated.
The circular also called for `strict compliance' of the guidelines by principals. ``As per physiological prescription, a child should not carry more than a fifth of his body weight on his back to keep the spine and skeletal structure strong and upright,'' the circular explained.
The project was piloted by U N Singh, ex-joint commissioner (academic), KVS, who retired early this month. Singh told TOI, ``KVs would be the first schools in the country to reduce the burden of schoolbags. We are not stopping at that. The reform process includes a wide gamut of environmental awareness and promotion of ICT (information and communication technologies) in education.''
Singh said KVS is working on one-textbook, one-notebook concept for its students. He said kids have heavy bags as they carry, apart from textbooks on each subjects, an equal number of notebooks. ``In higher classes, students are made to carry reference books as well which increases the load to unbearable proportions. What we plan to do is to have all chapters of all subjects to be taught in a particular academic session put in a single textbook and have students carry just one notebook. Zonal offices of KVS would work on the books. There will be an environmental benefit of the move as well, as more books mean increased felling of trees for paper. Secondly, with increasing computerization in the KVs, most books would be available in electronic form. And the reference books are to be kept in the class library so that students need not even go to the main library.''
Other initiatives of KVS include not giving homework for more than two-three subjects on a particular day, discouraging teaching through textbooks and having lockers assigned to students for keeping their books in every class.