PUNE: The state education department is preparing to conduct an inspection in schools to check the weight of school bags of the students.
The department’s move has drawn flak from all corners considering the low attendance especially in urban areas where the problem is more prevalent.
Educators, who said the inspection was ill-timed, pointed at the absence of enough students in the classrooms, fewer hours of teaching and also limited number of classes functioning now. It would give misleading figures, they added.
They said the work that should have been completed in December 2019 was left pending and now the department has woken up to present the report when the classrooms are empty.
Director of the State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT), Dinkar Temkar, said the state had adopted some changes in the school books in order to reduce the weight of school bag that students carry everyday.
“The books were combined and some other measures were undertaken. However, the impact assessment of the changes adopted was to be submitted to the state government but it is still pending. We will have to undertake the exercise once again in the coming days,” he added.
The SCERT has already submitted a report to the Union government regarding a survey conducted in every taluka of a district to record the weight of schoolbags in five schools.
The data was reported to the government, said Temkar. The state government had announced a policy to control the weight of school bags in 2014 and stated the the weight should not exceed 10% of the student’s weight.
The state government had formed groups headed by senior officers in the education department to conduct the impact assessment and the report was to be submitted by December 2019 which was further extended to January 2020 still the inspection report was not submitted and later the lockdown was imposed.
State education commissioner, Vishal Solanki, said they will be considering some model schools and distributing the integrated textbook system. “Its impact and effect to control the schoolbags’ weight would be assessed soon,” he said.
The HRD ministry, in a communication last November, had told education secretaries of all the states and Union Territories to adopt the schoolbag policy 2020 from standards I to XII.
The policy recommends following the universally accepted ratio where the weight for schoolbags is 10% of the bodyweight of the students.
Temkar, one of the six members on the experts’ committee that formulated the policy, had said a survey of stakeholders helped draw up the recommendations.
The policy also suggested ways to mend the timetable and other aspects in a day for a lightweight school bag. The committee was constituted after the Madras high court order in 2018 on framing a policy to reduce the weight of schoolbags.
The experts were from CBSE, JNV and NCERT, with a member from Telangana, and Temkar representing Maharashtra. Both states already have a schoolbag policy.