Panel's solution must help unburden children

Spurred into action by a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, the state has set up an eight-member panel to weigh the issue of heavy school bags and asked it to come up with solutions within two months.

Despite doctors pointing out the adverse effects they can have on children, heavy school bags have long been a sticking point between parents, schools and activists, said a front page report in this paper yesterday.

One hopes that this committee does extensive research and comes up with a solution for heavy school bags for children. It should not be a committee in name only, like so many other ‘committees’ which come to nothing at all. Or, even when the committee submits its report and findings, there is no action taken on them, making the exercise of forming a committee specious.

We have seen numerous instances of little kids, struggling with huge backpacks, getting off school buses in an awkward manner because of the weight bogging them down. They also are seen lugging the bags on the road. One parent stated that she has now given her young daughter a bag with wheels so it would literally take the weight off those young shoulders.

Schools in Mumbai do not have the kind of space to give lockers to children to keep their stuff. While some schools do have lockers, most of them do not. Then, there is also the possibility that students have to climb many floors with heavy bags to reach their class.

One has to look for ways in which we can lighten school bags. Doctors are on record stating the harm to small children from continued heavy lifting. and specific weights for bags for students of certain ages need to be chalked out.

Saying ‘heavy’ or ‘light’ is vague or subjective. Parents should not force their kids to carry all books on a certain day. There is tremendous mental pressure on school students today. Let us not overburden them physically too.

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