The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decreed that students of classes I and II should not be given homework by its affiliate schools, and they should not be made to carry school bags, the weight of which can have an "irreversible" and "adverse" effect on the health of children.
"Young children whose spine is at a crucial stage of growth are the most susceptible ones to hazards such as back pain, muscle pain, shoulder pain, fatigue and in extreme cases the distortion of spinal cord or shoulders that may most plausibly be attributed to heavy school bags," the circular said.
CBSE has also issued directives for the schools to ensure reduction in the weight of school bags for all students. "Schools should not prescribe too many additional and supplementary textbooks that are at times voluminous, costly and designed in a pedagogically unsound manner," the circular said.
Other measures aimed at reducing the weight of school bags include asking students to stick to the timetable and not pack additional books, prescribing light-weight textbooks and not assigning too many additional textbooks, allowing students to share textbooks, and setting aside a few hours for students to complete their homework in school.
While school officials have found some of the measures impractical, parents are reportedly pleased. "Unnecessary pressure from school teachers made my son a little stubborn and he would not carry his workbooks and other books to school," Meera, the mother of one Class II student told The Times of India.
This endeavor to reduce the physical burden on school children is not entirely new. The Economic Times reported that several states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi have already issued specific guidelines to use lighter school bags, while private schools have switched to smart-classes and educational tablets to replace textbooks in higher classes.
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