CBSE takes baby steps to reduce schoolbag load

New Delhi : The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has suggested lightening of schoolbags across classes in a circular issued last week, waiving completely homework for class I and II students, completing assignments during the school hours in case of children in higher classes and redesigning the weekly timetable to ensure the fewest books needed on any particular day. The new rules also require the teachers to use computers as much as possible to reduce dependence on textbooks.

The circular reaffirms an earlier instruction that children need not bring schoolbags in classes I and II and the schools should keep their bags, containing their textbooks and workbooks. The instruction was found defective since the children were forced to carry the schoolbags because of the homework assigned to them and so a total waiver of the homework in their case, a board official said.

Schools in developed countries usually have a locker for every student, sparing them the need to carry schoolbags. The CBSE has suggested to the private schools having enough space to consider providing such lockers.

Children studying in higher classes, the circular says, should have the option of completing assignments and projects during school hours under the direct supervision of the teachers. Projects should not be prescribed as homework as this causes the schoolbags to get heavier.

Instead, teachers may club children into pairs and allow them to share their textbooks. One of the students in a pair may bring half the textbooks required for the day with the other child bringing the remaining books. Schools should encourage the children to repack their bags every day to avoid carrying unnecessary textbooks, workbooks and other articles, the circular says. A board official said regular cleaning of the schoolbag is necessary because children often tend to stuff a variety of unnecessary objects into their schoolbags.

The bag should be strapped firmly to the child’s back, rather than hang loosely off her shoulders, the board has said, advocating a practice that should distribute the bag’s weight evenly across the child’s back and shoulders. The circular points out that heavy schoolbags can make children, whose spines are at a crucial stage of growth, susceptible to back pain, muscle pain, shoulder pain and fatigue and can even lead to a deformed spine.

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