The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) School Education Department (SED) has issued guidelines to all the government and private schools for reducing the weight of school bags carried by the school going children.
The guidelines have been issued in response to concerns raised by parents and health experts about the physical burden of carrying heavy school bags and its impact on the health of students. Schools have been advised to strictly adhere to these guidelines and to take necessary steps to ensure that the weight of the bags is within the prescribed limits.
In this regard, fresh circular instructions have been issued by the Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK) to all the heads of government and private schools to strictly adhere to the S.O 126 issued by School Education Department on April 15 of 2020 enforcing Rule 8A of J&K School Education Rules, 2010 and revised guidelines of School Bag Policy, 2020 issued by Department of School Education and Literacy Ministry of Education, Government of India for reducing of School bag weight and recommendations of books thereof. “Any dereliction on part of any schools shall be viewed seriously and shall invite the action as envisaged in Rule 8A clause(3),” the DSDK circular reads.
As per the circular instructions, the students of pre-primary classes should be exempted from carrying a school bag while the weight of the school bag for class 1st and 2nd primary should not exceed 1.5kg and the weight of school bags carried by students of 3rd and 4th should not exceed 3Kg.
Also, the weight of school bags for students of class 6th and 7th class students should not go beyond 6kgs while the weight should not exceed 5kgs for class 8th and 9th students and should not go beyond 5.5kgs for class 10th students. “It is the duty of school heads to ensure that no homework is assigned to students of classes up to 2nd standard and no formal books are prescribed at Pre-primary (Nursery, LKG, UKG) levels,” the DSEK circular reads.
However, students of these classes may be provided a maximum two notebooks and work books to be kept in the teacher’s custody in the school itself, it reads. “Students of Pre-primary level should not be asked to carry any bag except light carrier for Lunch box and no schools should prescribe any other subjects except Language and Arithmetic for class 1st & 2nd, Language, Environmental Science (EVS) and Arithmetic for class 3rd to 5th besides Language, Social Science, Mathematics and Science for class 6th and 7th, or as prescribed by the affiliating authority,” the DSEK circular reads. It reads that the students shall not be asked to bring additional books and extra material to the school.
Notably, the Department of School Education and Literacy (DSEL) Ministry of Education has issued guidelines that the SED shall issue detailed guidelines and direction from time to time for regulating the weight of the school bags and the department has been authorised to cancel affiliation and recognition of the school violating the provisions of the rule 8A (1) and shall issue academic calendar every year for all the schools affiliated with JKBOSE or government, which shall be followed by all the concerned schools.
Meanwhile the DSEK circular reads that there was no implementation on the ground level as most of the schools flout norms as envisaged in Rule 8A of J&K School Education Act 2002.
Notably, the DSEL has rolled down School Bag Policy 2020 in consonance with judgement of Madras High Court dated May 19 of 2018 wherein Union of India was directed to frame a policy on children school bag as on the lines of “Children School Bags (Limitation on weight) Bill, 2016.
The DSEK has stated that the school bag was a common cause of backache in school-going children as a heavy bag may cause a child to compensate by leaning his body forward and this can strain muscles in his neck, shoulders and back. “The child may also find it difficult to put the bag on and take it off, or he falls frequently in school while carrying his schoolbag,” it reads.