The issue had come under consideration because several scientific publications had taken cognizance of bad posture as well as backache among school-going children.
School Bag Policy 2020: The government of Delhi has issued guidelines to reduce the weight of school bags for the students in primary, secondary as well as senior secondary levels, according to news agency ANI. According to the new guidelines, the weight of the school bag should be at a maximum of 3.5 kgs to 5 kgs. The guidelines have been issued under the School Bag Policy 2020, which had been formulated by experts from NCERT, CBSE, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS). It was released by the Union Ministry of Education and NCERT in November last year and shared with the Education Secretaries of all the states as well as the Union Territories.
The issue had come under consideration because several scientific publications had taken cognizance of bad posture as well as backache among school-going children, with several of them pointing to the school bag as a cause. Studies stated that while posture is very important to be properly maintained in the formative years, students are often forced to hunch forward to compensate for the heavy school bag, resulting in strained back, neck, and shoulder muscles.
While looking into the issue, the expert committee, by means of surveys, found that students of primary classes, i.e. students between Classes I and V were carrying 2-3kgs of extra weight in a school bag than the permissible limit – up to 10% of the universally accepted body weight. Moreover, Class VI onwards, this weight kept increasing, ranging between an exceeding weight of 3 and 6 kg. Textbooks, notebooks, lunch boxes as well as water bottles were found to be the items contributing to this excessive weight. Apart from that, an empty bag had a weight of 150 gm to 1 kg.
Class IX onwards, reference books also widely contributed to excess weight.
Based on these findings, the policy had recommended that for students in Class I to X, the accepted weight of the school bag should be at 10% of the body weight, and the onus of monitoring the school bag weight regularly was put on the school. For this, the policy said that every school needed to have a digital weighing machine inside their premises. While the policy advises against wheeled bags due to their probability of hurting the child while climbing stairs, it suggests having a light-weight bag with proper compartments and padded adjustable straps.
As per the recommendations, pre-primary students would have no school bags, while for Classes I and II, the recommended bag weight would be between 1.6 kg and 2.2 kg. For Class III to V, this would be between 1.7 kg and 2.5 kg, and for Classes VI and VII, between 2 kg to 3 kg. For students of Class VIII, the school bag would need to be between 2.5 kg and 4 kg; and between 2.5 kg and 4.5 kg for Classes IX and X. For Classes XI and XII, the maximum weight of the school bag would have to be between 3.5 kg and 5 kg.
It is in accordance with this policy that the Delhi government has issued these guidelines on Wednesday.