HRD ministry considers proposal to make school bags lighter

The government plans to lighten the backbreaking bags children carry to school with a proposal to split their books according to particular semesters, sources said, with a slew of studies pointing out that the bulky backpacks are too heavy for their fragile bones and muscles.

The idea was mooted at a meeting of the human resource development (HRD) ministry and could be implemented from the next academic year if approved by states.

Ministry officials say the plan has found wider acceptance than the proposal of students leaving books at school as that would require provisioning of lockers which would be an expensive affair.

Carrying school bags that weigh between 5 and 10 kg is common for eight-to-15-year-old children in India as most institutes insist they bring about a dozen books and notebooks daily, with the added load of lunchboxes and water bottles triggering back and neck strains and sometimes lifelong orthopaedic damage.

“The idea is to ensure students don’t need to carry heavy bags to school that puts pressure on their young spine,” said an HRD ministry official. “The suggestion to bind specific chapters that would be taught in a particular semester is practical and can be implemented easily.”

Many parents and teachers have welcomed the idea.

“As the Delhi government has already started the process of reducing curriculum, this move by the central government is another step in the right direction,” said CP Singh, president of Government School Teachers Association.

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