AHMEDABAD: School bags are a burden! The government, the boards, schools, parents, and indeed children are puzzled that despite all efforts the burden is not budging. Time-tables are being set considering all factors, work sheets have replaced notebooks, and subject homework is staggered — yet the plight of children remains the same.
Students start by carrying up to 5kg in class I and II and end up lifting 8-10kg as they reach class VII and VIII. In a survey, Team TOI studied the anatomy of the load.
W eight of school bags
Some school bags weighed 3kg to 5.5kg. These are flashy bags that adorn the market and lure students. These bags are not only expensive, but are also heavy and add to the burden. A class I student was carrying a bag weighing 6kg even as the school maintained that class I & II students need not carry textbooks. On inspection, it was found that the bag, the , and the were adding to the burden.
“My daughter trawled markets for three days in search of a bag with the Barbie doll image. She was adamant about buying it,” says Snehal Desai, the mother of a class IV student. Kirit Doshi, another parent, says, “The trolley bag trend had captured my son’s attention and he insisted that we buy that.” Doshi went on to say: “But I know that the trolley bag is good for travel, but not for school. So I got him a standard bag. He did not speak to me for a week.”
Bharat Shah, who works for a bag shop in Gurukul, says: “The look is the first priority and no one asks about weight. Fancy bags fascinate customers, so we keep a good stock of such bags.”
Water from home safest
Campaigns against plastic have made parents give their children water bottles made of other materials. Health-conscious parents ensure that their children carry water from home. These bottles add to the bag weight. During the survey, it was found that these bottles add up to 2.5kg. Some parents pack two water bottles for their kids.
Most of the the city schools maintain that they have RO plants on their premises. But parents don’t trust the school. DPS principal Surender Sachdeva says, “We have an RO plant in the school. But parents send children with heavy water bottles.” Another educator says, “These water bottles are risky as kids play with them and they might hurt someone. Besides if the bottles fall from height, they might injure someone badly.”
Food for thought
Gone are the days when one lunch box was enough for a child. Parents send not two, but at times three boxes. Normal boxes have been replaced by hot cases to keep food fresh. However, the result is a heavier burden for children. Some children carry an additional bag for lunch boxes. On being asked about her three lunch boxes, a class II child responded, “One has a meal, one has fruits, and the third has biscuits.” Prashant Bhimani, a psychologist, says: “It is sad that parents trust the school with their child, but fail to trust the school’s drinking water. Only strict rules and proper communication can deal with the paradox.”
The books conundrum
This weight can shoot up to 6kg depending on the board and class. However, efforts to reduce the burden of books has borne result. But more has to be done. “Children of class I and II do not carry anything in their bags, while for senior classes we have a file system,” says Sonal Narang, vice-principal, Anand Niketan. “We have done away with the burden of notebooks completely. But children manage to add burden in their bags.”
Neeta Awasthi, principal, Maharaja Agrasen Vidyalaya, says: “Children load their bags with extra books despite our repeated counsel to strictly adhere to the time-table.”
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