HC asks Maharashtra to issue circular on weight of school bags

Voicing concern over heavy bags carried by school children, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra Government to issue a circular within a month fixing a date for implementing recommendations of an expert committee that looked into the issue.

Such a circular should also fix the responsibility of monitoring the implementation of the recommendations on officers to be appointed by individual schools for the purpose, said a bench of justices V M Kanade and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi while hearing a petition. 

The HC suggested that the Government Circular -- to be sent to all schools -- should consider giving lockers to students whereever possible. This would be of course optional for the students, the Judges said.

The circular should state in clear terms the weight limit to be carried by the students, the Bench opined.

Government Pleader Anjali Helekar said there are 1.06 lakh schools in the State and hence it would take some time to inform them about the circular. The HC then suggested that the State inform them through e-mail.

The Judges were hearing a PIL filed by social activist Swati Patil on rising weight of school bags and its adverse impact on the health of children. 

Soon after the petition was filed, Government had appointed a committee which submitted several recommendations. As per the panel's report, students are lugging school bags 20-30 per cent heavier than what children of their age should carry. Because of this, around 60 per cent students below the age of 10 suffer from orthopaedic as well as stress-induced ailments.

The committee recommended that one book should be used for three months for each subject and the textbook weight can be reduced by using less weight paper and no hardcover. 

Further, it suggested use of e-classroom, audio-visual technology and other modern means for teaching.

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