Indian officials recently approved weight guidelines for children’s school bags.
The central government said the weight of the bag should depend on the age of the child. It urged all Indian states to set limits in accordance with the new guidance.
Indian officials have denounced schools for making students carry heavy school bags and giving young children homework.
Under the guidelines, no homework would be given to children in Classes 1 and 2. This will ensure that the youngest students have no books to carry home.
For students in Classes 3 to 5, the weight of a school bag would never be more than three kilograms. And bags would never weigh more than five kilograms for students in Class 10.
The Indian government noted studies that show how a heavy load can affect students’ soft and developing spines.
One study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India found that 68 percent of young children might suffer from mild back pain. The mild pain can develop into long-term back pain and affect bones of the spinal column.
The study involved more than 2,500 children between the ages of seven and 13. It found that more than 88 percent of children carried more than 45 percent of their body weight on their backs.
Rashmi Tapke is a mother of two children in Mumbai. She said heavy school bags reflect poor planning.
She supports the federal weight limits. She added, “If they plan, they can repeat the subjects taught and thus reduce the load. My kids find it difficult to carry so many books.”
Mumbai is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. The state requires that a school bag’s weight should be no more than 10 percent of a child’s body weight. Many schools there have started using white boards and projectors in classes. This has reduced the number of books to be carried to school.
But in large parts of rural India, children still have to walk great distances, weighed down by heavy school bags.
Rajinder Shukla’s daughter attends school in Uttar Pradesh state. He said she has to bring “about 4-5 kilograms of books in her school bag and also carry her lunch box and water bottle in a separate bag.”