How many books should a little child carry to school? This is important, because the more books a child carries, the heavier its schoolbag will be. Doctors say the schoolbag should not weigh more than one-tenth the weight of the child. But this is not happening in our country. On an average, schoolchildren are forced to carry schoolbags weighing nearly one-fourth of their body weight. So the children get back pain, neck sprain and develop a stooping posture. Some of them begin to hate going to school. Now the tiol Council of Educatiol Research and Training (NCERT) has revealed that it prescribes only two books for children studying in class I-II. One book is for learning English, the other for Mathematics. Only in class III should the child carry a third book for learning about Environment. When RTI activist Rajendra Gupta got this information, he pointed out that hardly any school is following the NCERT guideline. Private as well as government schools prepare their own curriculum. These schools are mostly overloading their little students with many optiol subjects. For each such subject, there will be a textbook and exercise notebook for the entire year. Parents and guardians are helpless, because their children have to compete fiercely in the rat race. So they search for strong, well-designed schoolbags which ‘distribute the weight of the books properly over the entire body’ of the child! Of course some enlightened schools are finding ways to help their students. Some schools provide a locker to every student where books must be kept. But this ideal facility is not possible in most schools with lots of students. Some schools are providing textbooks in loose spiral binding so that students need to carry only the relevant pages in a thin file to the classroom. Yet some other schools divide textbooks into four booklets, one for every quarter. The load on little students is much reduced with such booklets and thin exercise notebooks. At Axom Jatiya Vidyalaya in Noonmati in Guwahati, students are required to keep one set of textbooks at school and another set at home. So their schoolbags carry only tiffin box, water bottle and a few thin notebooks. In an age where entire libraries can be digitally carried in tablets, smartphones and pen drives, let all schools think of ways to lighten the load on students.
Food for thought